The Crusaders blew away the Hurricanes 38-22 after a devastating first-half display at Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch.
Scott Barrett and Richie Mo’unga both scored twice as the two-times defending Super Rugby champions cruised to a 17th straight victory, in the New Zealand derby.
The Crusaders bamboozled John Plumtree’s men, who were lucky to be down by nil at the break.
Mo’unga combined with the magnificent Manasa Mataele, mesmerising the opposition for (what will be) one of the tries of the season; it had shades of Dillyn Leyds to SP Marais against the Chiefs in 2017.
The Hurricanes had no answers to the pace and power of the Saders’ backs and were cut open by slick moves, skilful offloads and power running: it was a clinic in attacking rugby.
Ben Lam scored a brace as the Hurricanes won the second half 22-7, scoring four tries which denied the Crusaders a bonus-point.
Imperious Crusaders begin slowly, but soon find their groove
This eagerly awaited clash started without any tempo with both sides struggling to find their rhythm.
It was in the ninth minute when Scott Barrett capitalised on a mistake by Finlay Christie that put the Crusaders on their way.
The Wellington men had their chances. Jordie Barrett showed glimpses but lay, largely on the periphery.
Matt Todd was leading the way, winning two penalties at the breakdown, but it was the backs who made the difference.
Manasa Mataele and David Havili were cutting the Canes to ribbons and Mo’unga was marshalling the outside backs.
Lam saved a certain try with a big tackle on Mataele, knocking the ball out of the winger’s hands after a scything break inside his own 22.
The dam wall bursts with one of the great Super Rugby tries
Mataele was at it again, producing a gravity-defying feat of skill and ingenuity.
He beat Gareth Evans then offloads a no-look, out-the-back-door flip in mid-air to stay infield on the right-hand touchline.
Mo’unga, in support, took the pass and who ran away for his first try of the night.
It was a staggering piece of play that had shades of Dyllin Leyds specy against the Chiefs in 2017.
It was Havili’s turn to dazzle, the fullback played a long pass to Bridge.
The winger chased his kick, regathering the ball bounced off Jordie Barrett and back into his arms.
Bridge was tackled short, the ball recycled quickly and Taufua had his team’s third.
The Saders were slick, clinical and carving the Canes open at will. They had their fourth.
Plumtree’s pack got decimated in the scrum set-piece. Whetukamokamo Douglas scooped up the loose ball and played Mo’unga, who stepped his way over for his brace.
The Crusaders led 24-nil; the Hurricanes fortunate to have that.
Robertson’s men take their foot off the gas, cruising to a victory without breaking a sweat
Scott Barrett and Lam traded blows after the interval. Barrett barging his way over from close range.
Lam’s score was more flash, the winger broke from his own half slipped a tackle before playing Matt Proctor on his inside shoulder.
Proctor was tackled near the goal line, the Canes recycled the ball and Lam, at the base of the ruck, dotted down.
Goosen crossed, in the 67th minute, to double the Hurricanes’ lead.
Bridge added his name to the list of try-scorers before a beautiful step and break by Jackson Garden-Bachop set up Lam’s second.
Perenara’s late try meant that the Crusaders did not collect a bonus-point, but it was pointless on the night.
Final Score: Crusaders 38 (31) Hurricanes 22 (0)
Tries – S. Barrett (2), Mo’unga (2), Taufua, Bridge
Con – Mo’unga (3), Hunt
Tries – Lam (2), Goosen, Perenara
Con – J. Barrett
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Ref 2: Nick Briant
TMO: Glenn Newman
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Ben May, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Ngani Laumape.