The Crusaders moved 11 points clear at the top of Super Rugby’s New Zealand Conference after overturning an early deficit to thrash rivals the Highlanders 43-17.
The struggling Highlanders made a flying start in Christchurch as Ben Smith marked his 150th appearance with an early try, and the visitors still led 10-7 at the break despite Braydon Ennor going over.
But the second half was a different story as the hosts found their groove and David Havili crossed to claim the lead for the first time.
A penalty try followed and the Crusaders’ persistence was rewarded with a further score for Sevu Reece, who then turned provider for Mitchell Drummond.
Josh Ioane reduced the gap, but Will Jordan accelerated through for another home try and an 80th-minute yellow card for Ben Funnell came far too late for Highlanders to offer any sort of response.
— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) April 12, 2019
Also on Friday, the Stormers claimed a much-needed triumph, defeating the Rebels 41-24 in Melbourne.
Dillyn Leyds scored the only Stormers try in the first half, but their opponents looked set to turn the tide when Reece Hodge crossed shortly after the restart.
However, the visitors enjoyed a rampant run of three tries in quick succession through Juarno Augustus, Damian De Allende and Ruhan Nel.
Will Genia and Campbell Magnay replied at the other end, yet Nel went through for his second of the game as the impressive Stormers ran out comfortable winners.
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