Crusaders 38-14 Highlanders: Crusaders cruise into semi-finals
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 22/06/19 9:40am
The Super Rugby quarter-finals got under way on Friday, with the Crusaders the first team through to the semis.
Richie Mo'unga grabbed two tries as part of a flawless 23-point haul as the Crusaders stormed into the Super Rugby semi-finals with a convincing win over the Highlanders in Christchurch.
Along with crossing the whitewash twice in each half, the All Black fly-half kicked five conversions and slotted over an early penalty.
Mo'unga's display helped the double defending champions keep their perfect home play-off record intact and extended their winning streak at Rugby League Park to 29 matches.
The visitors got the first try in the 17th minute as centre Rob Thompson made a brilliant step and offload for Ben Smith to crack open the Crusaders defence, with the departing co-captain putting winger Sio Tomkinson across near the left corner.
The home side snatched back the lead, however, with an unmarked David Havili jogging through a huge defensive hole to cross under the posts.
The Highlanders could do little about the Crusaders' second try when a majestic offload by George Bridge to Whetu Douglas was flicked wide to Mo'unga, who crossed and converted his own score.
Nevertheless, the Highlanders rallied again, rumbling forward to earn a scrum near the try-line. Scrum-half Aaron Smith hurled a pass wide to inside centre Teihorangi Walden who burst through and planted the ball just over the line.
Five minutes after the restart, however, Liam Squire was sin-binned for a shoulder charge and the Highlanders unravelled, A defensive blunder gifted the Crusaders their third try in the 48th minute as the away side stood off a rolling maul and allowed Douglas to barge over.
With Squire still in the sin-bin, replacement prop Michael Alaalatoa grabbed the Crusaders' fourth try and Mo'unga capped a fine individual performance by grabbing his second try with brute strength in the 69th minute, chasing a kick over the line and ripping the ball off Marty Banks in mid-air.
The Crusaders now wait to find out which team they will face out of the Hurricanes and the Bulls, who meet in their quarter-final in Wellington on Saturday.