Crusaders book semi-final spot with 38-14 win over Highlanders

Sam Whitelock was part of the winning Crusaders side
Sam Whitelock was part of the winning Crusaders side

Crusaders 38-14 Highlanders, Orangetheory Stadium

Crusaders extended their domination in the ongoing Super Rugby season as they defeated Highlanders 38-14 at Orangetheory Stadium on Friday to reach the semi-final.

The victory also means Crusaders have kept their hope of claiming hat-trick titles alive after emerging champions in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Richie Mo’unga got Crusaders off to a promising start with a third minute penalty kick. Highlanders looked in good touch for the next 10 minutes but could not convert it into points with Jackson Hemopo's try disallowed and a penalty kick from Josh Ioane struck an upright.

Eventually, the visitors found a breakthrough in the 17th minute when Sio Tomkinson touched down and Ioane followed with the conversion to make it 3-7. Crusaders reclaimed their lead after a well timed pass from Mo'unga found David Havili as he dotted down.

Mo'unga also followed it with a converted try as Crusaders took the scoreline 17-7 before Teihorangi Walden's try at the stroke of half-time narrowed down the gap to three points.

Highlanders had a major setback at the start of the second half with Liam Squire sin-binned for an illegal hit on Douglas and Crusaders made full use of the advantage as Whetu Douglas (47') and Michael Alaalatoa (54') scored tries.

Any chance of a Highlanders comeback was put off with Mo'unga scoring his second converted try in the 69th minute to help Crusaders complete a 24 point win and a berth in the semi-final.

Highlights of the game:

Super Rugby 2019 Points Table