Seven time Super Rugby champions the Crusaders cruised into the 2017 Super Rugby Semi-finals by beating Otago’s Highlanders 17-0 at AMI Stadium.
The Crusaders finished second on the Super Rugby standings at the end of the regular season so they will play the winner of the Stormers v Chiefs match at home in Christchurch next weekend.
The Crusaders victory is their 15th this season which equals the record for number of wins by any single team in a Super Rugby season.
The result is also the Crusaders 18th successive Super Rugby play off victory at home in Christchurch.
The Highlanders score is the second time in 296 Super Rugby matches that they have been kept scoreless and the only other time was in March 2010 in Cape Town against the Stormers.
The Crusaders outscored the Highlanders by two tries to none in a muddy contest that was poorly attended for a Super Rugby quarter final after New Zealand’s South Island officials declared a state of emergency amid severe storms.
The storms hindered the Highlanders preparations for the match as they were unable to fly in for the match the day before and only arrived in Christchurch at 13.30 before the 19.35 kick off.
Weather conditions prevented the match from being a free flowing encounter and while the Crusaders kept the Highlanders scoreless for the encounter the Crusaders failed to add any points in the second half.
First half tries from Joe Moody and Codie Taylor put the home side into a 17-0 lead which they did not concede even though in the second half the Highlanders stepped up their intensity.
In the 53rd minute the Crusaders possession for the contest was at 79% but by full time the Highlanders had pulled the figure back to 61% which still reflects the Crusaders dominance in the encounter.
Another statistic that illustrates the Crusaders dominance in the match is the tackle count. The Highlanders made 148 tackles compared the Crusaders 95.
The Crusaders opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Richie Mo’unga kicked his first and only penalty. Mo’unga went on to miss two further penalties but converted both tries so he finished the match with seven points scored.
Should the Crusaders win next weekend a the Lions lose they will host the final. If the Crusaders and Lions both win their Semi-final, the Crusaders will have to travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions who ended the Christchurch side’s campaign last year with a 42-25 victory.
Final Score Crusaders 17 (17) Highlanders 0 (0)
Tries -J.Moody, C.Taylor
Pen – R.Mo’unga
Con – R.Mo’unga 2
Cards – L. Squire (4th min yellow)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:Mike Fraser
TMO : Glenn Newman
1. Joe Moody , 2. Codie Taylor , 3. Owen Franks , 4. Scott Barrett , 5. Sam Whitelock (C) , 6. Jordan Taufua , 7. Matt Todd (VC) , 8. Kieran Read , 9. Bryn Hall , 10. Richie Mo’unga , 11. Seta Tamanivalu , 12. Ryan Crotty (VC) , 13. Jack Goodhue , 14. Israel Dagg , 15. David Havili
Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell , 17. Wyatt Crockett , 18. Michael Alaalatoa , 19. Luke Romano , 20. Pete Samu , 21. Mitchell Drummond , 22. Mitchell Hunt , 23. George Bridge
1. Daniel Lienert-Brown , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Siate Tokolahi , 4. Jackson Hemopo , 5. Tom Franklin , 6. Liam Squire , 7. James Lentjes , 8. Luke Whitelock , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Richard Buckman , 12. Rob Thompson, 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Ben Smith (cc)
Replacements : 16. Ash Dixon (cc) , 17. Aki Seiuli , 18. Siosuia Halanukonuka , 19. Alex Ainley , 20. Gareth Evans , 21. Elliot Dixon , 22. Kayne Hammington , 23. Marty Banks