The Crusaders will finish the regular Super rugby season in first place after thumping the Rebels 66-0 with a bonus point at AMI stadium in Christchurch.
The Crusaders have a bye next week and have accumulated 58 points and their nearest rivals are the Hurricanes and Jaguares with 44 and 41 points respectively. Both rival teams have two matches to play but cannot catch the Crusaders.
The Crusaders only needed two points to seal the top spot which ensures that they will have home advantage in the playoffs but ran riot against the Melbourne side who have been challenging to finish on top of the Australian Conference.
The Crusaders performance sends a strong message to their rivals that they will need to be on their best form if they are to beat them in Christchurch.
Last week they suffered a shock loss to the Chiefs in Suva, Fiji but for the rest of 2019 as long as they keep winning in the playoffs they will not have to travel away from home.
Both Seve Reece and Braydon Ennor scored hat-tricks while David Havili scored a brace of tries. In all the Crusaders outscored the Rebels by ten tries to none and led 26-0 at half time.
Ennor missed out on a fourth try in the match when he knocked the ball on with an open try line ahead in the final minutes of the match.
The match was a special occasion for All Black Ryan Crotty who won his 150th Super rugby cap who had a hand in several of the tries but scored the final try of the one-sided rout and added the conversion.
Flyhalf Richie Moúnga also had a hand in several of the tries with pinpoint kicks to the wings or passes scored 14 points through 7 conversions.
Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock was clearly pleased with his team’s performance after losing last week and said, “It’s awesome.”
“Obviously last week the pressure came on a little bit. But it was awesome for (Crotty) to score in his 150th and wind back the clock by taking the shot at goal, too.”
The Rebels were contenders for the top spot in the Australian conference but their defensive structure was ripped to shreds and they were exposed outwide where Moúnga kicked the ball into space for his back three.
The Crusaders backs also created tries by running through the middle of the Rebels and the trio of Ennor, Reece, and Havili all showed slick skills on attack.
Reece is now Super rugby’s top try-scorer this season with 13 tries for 2019 and his performance along with Ennor’s hattrick will help their quest to be included in the All Blacks squad ahead of the Rugby world cup.
Next week Crusaders will have a rest week while the Rebels host a resurgent Chiefs side at home in Melbourne.
Final Score Crusaders 66(26) Rebels 0(0)
Tries – S.Reece 3, D.Havili 2, B.Ennor 3, B.Hall, R.Crotty
Con – R.Mo’unga 7, R.Crotty
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2: James Munro
TMO: Ben Skeen
15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 George Bower, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Ngane Punivai
15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Tom English, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 M