Crusaders crush Fijian Drua 61-3 in a one-sided Super Rugby Pacific clash at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.
The Crusaders romped to a comfortable nine-try victory over a spirited Fijian Drua, who were outclassed in the Garden City.
The 10-times champions scored for goals to race into a 25-point halftime lead.
Scott Robertson’s charges scored five more times to rack up another half-century victory.
The first-ever Super Rugby match between the illustrious Crusaders and new boys Fijian Drua was a mismatch.
The New Zealanders dominated the Pacific Islanders, who could not cross the whitewash at all.
Sevu Reece and Tom Christie both bagged braces for the hosts as they an up a cricket score.
The Crusaders move ahead of the Brumbies on the Super Rugby Pacific table with the bonus-point win.
Fijian Drua, on the other hand, stays in 11th behind the Western Force, but ahead of Moana Pasifika.
Flyhalf Fergus Burke scored 21 points in another assured start in the No 10 role
Fergus Burke, in place of Richie Mo’unga at first five-eighth, scored a try and landed eight from nine conversions (16 pts).
He set up Fainga’anuku’s early score and put Reece away in the second half while being instrumental in several other scores.
Burke even had a deft hand in Tom Christie’s first try when he combined with Jack Goodhue, who also had two assists from midfield.
Leicester Fainga’anuku, Sam Whitelock, George Bridge, and Braydon Ennor also scored for the Crusaders.
Ennor, playing his 50th Super Rugby game, added an assist to go with his late meat pie.
Fainga’anuku continued his excellent form by extending his lead at the top of the try-scoring charts.
The 22-year-old winger took his tally to double figures in 2022 when he scored his 10th Super Rugby Pacific try in the second minute.
Reece’s double took his tally to 42 Super Rugby five-pointers, 10 behind Caleb Ralph (52).
Vinaya Habosi and Kitione Taliga were damaging late withdrawals for Fijian Drua.
The winger and fullback add a wide threat to Mick Byrne’s side, but tonight, it was sorely missing as the Saders were never stretched.
Habosi especially, who has been a revelation, was a big miss for the blunt Drua.
Teti Tela could only muster one first-half penalty as the Fijians fired a blank in a chastening second half.
The Pacific Islanders were no match for the Kiwis, who booked themselves a home quarter-final.
The game was over at halftime as the Crusaders took a comfortable 28-3 lead over Fijian Drua into the shed
The home team began with an early strike to set the tone on a chilly evening in Christchurch.
The Crusaders won an early penalty in the Drua 22 and kicked to the corner.
The ball went to Burke, who floated a wide pass to the open Fainga’anuku on the sideline.
The Tongan-born winger, who already has two hat-tricks this season, extended his lead at the top of the try-scoring stakes.
Burke added the extras before Tela, playing at inside centre instead of flyhalf, put the visitors on the board.
The Fijians had their chances, but a lot of handling errors and ill-discipline cost the tourists as they coughed up possession.
Robertson’s side struck three more times to kill the game and take the five points.
Another mistake from inside the Drua 22 led to an eight-phase attack ending in five. Burke combined with Goodhue to put Christie away.
Just before the half-hour mark, another eight-phase attack pushed and pulled the tourists apart.
The ever-dangerous Reece, at first receiver, put a rampaging Whitelock – on the angle – through a gap.
Whitelock, playing his 170th Super Rugby match, crashed through two defenders to notch a rare Super Rugby try, his ninth in a long career.
There was time for Reece to increase his try-scoring tally when Goodhue sent the flying Fijian to the flag.
Burke converted all three scores to remain flawless in the first stanza as the hosts opened up an unattainable advantage.
The Crusaders ran riot after the break while keeping the feeble Fijian Drua scoreless since the eighth-minute
With the game already lost, especially as no team had overturned a halftime deficit away to the Crusaders in about a decade or so.
This was about damage limitation for Byrne’s over-matched team, whose porous defence could not keep out the red tide.
Things got off to a bad start after the interval.
Burke, on the wraparound, finished off an 11-phase attack, beating Ilaisa Droasese on the outside to score.
The 22-year-old first-five converted to make it 35-3 after 49 minutes – game well and truly over!
Burke sent Reece away in the corner with a double skip-pass for his second of the night after another turnover by the visitors.
With 10 minutes remaining, Selestino Ravutaumada saw yellow, but it was inconsequential.
Bridge and Ennor added to the islanders’ pain, who will want to forget this drubbing.
Final Score: Crusaders 61 (28) Drua 3 (3)
Tries – Fainga’anuku, Christie (2), Whitelock, Reece (2), Burke, Bridge, Ennor
Con – Burke (8)
Pen – Tela
Cards – Ravutaumada (Yellow, 70′)
Referee: Angus Mabey
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: Jono Bredin
TMO: Glenn Newman
Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Scott Barrett (captain), 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Zach Gallagher, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Ricky Jackson, 1 Finlay Brewis.
Replacements: 16 Shilo Klein, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Dominic Gardiner, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 George Bridge.
Fijian Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 12 Teti Tela, 11 Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, 10 Caleb Muntz, 9 Peni Matawalu, 8 Nemani Nagusa (captain), 7 Mesulame Dolokoto, 6 Joseva Tamani, 5 Ratu Rotuisolia, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Samuela Tawake, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Chris Minimbi, 20 Raikabula Momoedonu, 21 Leone Nawai, 22 Jona Mataiciwa, 23 Kitione Ratu.