As it happened: Crusaders pummel Highlanders with relentless second half attack to score big win

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Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of tonight's Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Highlanders at Wyatt Crockett Stadium in Christchurch.

FT: CRU 45-22 HIG

The game comes to a grinding halt thanks to scrum resets galore. The ref finally blows the final whistle and that's it at Wyatt Crockett Stadium. Crusaders were relentless again tonight and the Highlanders just couldn't keep up. The attack was spot on.

77min: CRU 45-22 HIG

Mataele gets an intercept of his own on halfway and he too looks all money to score but Ben Smith catches him 5m short! Mataele can't believe it. He tries to recover and run again but knocks it on in the process. What a try saver. Highlanders scrum on their 5m.

73min: CRU 45-22 HIG

CRU THREE! Rob Thompson comes up with an intercept on halfway and looks to be streaking away to score but the ref brings it back as the Highlanders' midfielder is offside. Well spotted by the ref. Mo'unga uses it to push the lead out to more than three converted tries.

70min: CRU 42-22 HIG

CRU TRY! That's probably the nail in the coffin as Bridge strolls in to score. But he was set up by a stunning long pass by Mo'unga after the first-five broke the line. The pass was at least 15m. Bridge takes it on the bounce and goes in untouched.

66min: CRU 35-22 HIG

Crusaders look destined to score after Goodhue makes a linebreak on halfway. He's in the backfield before the sweeping Highlanders defence meets him 22m out so he heaves a massive pass to Bridge on the left wing. Bridge slides in to catch it, steps inside two and gets taken down 5m out. Crusaders try to recycle quickly to the right but it's knocked on! Highlanders scrum 5m from their line.

65min: CRU 35-22 HIG

Rare error from Drummond as he kicks his box kick out on the full. Highlanders come all the way back into the Crusaders half for their lineout.

62min: CRU 35-22 HIG

CRU THREE! Crusaders push their lead to 13 with Mo'unga's boot after Luke Whitelock is penalised for hands in the ruck. Highlanders No.8 got just a little bit desperate there after defending for 15 phases.  

59min: CRU 32-22 HIG

Highlanders knock it on after setting up an attack on halfway and there's no advantage so we'll come back for a Crusaders scrum. Short stop in play as Crockett recieves some attention. The big fella already has 55min under his belt.

57min: CRU 32-22 HIG

Crusaders are almost immediately penalised for not releasing after the lineout so the Highlanders get some territory back with a penalty of their own. Their lineout on halfway.

56min: CRU 32-22 HIG

Naholo makes a linebreak and looks to offload but it's knocked on by Thompson. Highlanders are then penalised for being offside so the Crusaders kick for touch. They get decent metres on Mo'unga's boot and it's a lineout on the Highlanders' 22m.

54min: CRU 32-22 HIG

Highlanders get an attacking chance after the Crusaders are penalised for incorrectly entering the ruck. Play getting a little sloppy here. Both teams losing the ball via knock ons and ruck turnovers a lot more this half. Can be expected after the slew of changes though. Anyway, Highlanders lineout 35m from the Crusaders line.

51min: CRU 32-22 HIG

Taufua already getting himself into the action and he absolutely flattens Ben Smith. Highlanders quickly respond to keep possession of the ball but after getting it away, there's a knock on. Crusaders scrum 35m from the Highlanders' line.

48min: CRU 32-22 HIG

Kieran Read's night is done. He makes way for Taufua. Nice return from the ABs skipper. On the field, it's a Highlanders scrum just inside their half.

46min: CRU 32-22 HIG

HIG TRY! The Highlanders strike right back! Crusaders' clearance kick off kickoff doesn't go out so the Highlanders bring it all the way back into the Crusaders half. They bring it to the right and Thompson puts Naholo in space 30m out and he streaks away untounched. 

44min: CRU 32-17 HIG

CRU TRY! Another stunner! Hall runs it off the back of the scrum and puts Crotty in space. Crotty links with Mo'unga and Mo'unga is in a foot race with Sopoaga and Ben Smith after he kicks ahead. He recovers it 5m out and dives in to score. More tries like that please!

42min: CRU 25-17 HIG

Early scrum for the Crusaders after a knock on by the Highlanders. It's just outside the Crusaders' 22m.

40min: CRU 25-17 HIG

Back underway thanks to Sopoaga.

HT: CRU 25-17 HIG

Great first half full of attacking and counter-attacking. Any concerns about Read and Squire's injuries can be put to rest at this point - they've both played brilliantly around the breakdown. Of concern though is Ben Smith, who has come off the field holding his hand heading into the tunnels. Still, great first half by both teams full of attacking chances. Be back soon for another exciting half!

40min: CRU 25-17 HIG

CRU TRY! And the Crusaders counter with a stunning team try of the own. Highlanders knock it on after the lineout and the Crusaders look to attack in the midfield. 40m out, the ball comes to the left and Mo'unga gets an offload off to Todd. Todd offloads to Makalio inside the 22m. He fends off one and looks for support and finds Barrett. Barrett runs it in to score. This game keeps on delivering.

39min: CRU 18-17 HIG

Highlanders will get one last chance with a lineout on halfway after Tamanivalu is taken into touch.

36min: CRU 18-17 HIG

HIG TRY! WHAT. A. TRY! Squire turns the ball over on his 10m and the Highlanders launch a counter-attack. Ben Smith puts Sopoaga in space with a short ball and he's off and running. Inside the 22m, back to Smith. He fends off one and hurdles another and the fullback scores. Classic Kiwi try.

32min: CRU 18-10 HIG

Crusaders attack down the left wing adn get deep into the Highlanders half with it. They bring it back to the right and Tamanivalu has a one-on-one but he's stopped by Buckman. He tries to offload to Goodhue but it's intercepted by Smith. Goodhue hits him straight into touch in reply. Crusaders lineout, 15m from the Highlanders line.

30min: CRU 18-10 HIG

CRU THREE! Highlanders give away a penalty for being offside after turning the ball over at the lineout and Crusaders take the penalty on offer this time. 

27min: CRU 15-10 HIG

Crusaders look to hit the midfield with Crotty but Walden makes a big hit. Squire is immediately in over the top and Crotty doesn't release so he's penalised. Attacking chance goes begging.

26min: CRU 15-10 HIG

Crusaders have a scrum after an unorthodox box kick from Hall. Crusaders have the ball on halfway and he puts one up high targetting Walden and Walden knocks it on. To make matters worse, the scrum then gives away a penalty and the Crusaders smell blood. They turn down the kickable three for a kick at touch. Crusaders lineout 10m out coming up.

24min: CRU 15-10 HIG

HIG THREE! Read gets penalised for entering the ruck incorrectly. Penalty is right in front, 15m out and Sopoaga replies with ease. Crusaders have been warned for too many penalties in their 22m.

22min: CRU 15-7 HIG

Highlanders have a scrum 40m from the Crusaders line after Sam Whitelock's linebreak and ensuing offload leads to a knock on. Seesawing game so far.

20min: CRU 15-7 HIG

CRU THREE! Crusaders strike back almost immediately after a head high tackle moments after kickoff. It's right in front, 35m out and not a problem for Mo'unga.

19min: CRU 12-7 HIG

HIG TRY! Highlanders are in under the posts after a stunner of an offload from Whitelock. He breaks two tackles before he's dragged down 7m out. He gets the offload away out of no where though and Lomax goes in untouched. Great ball.

17min: CRU 12-0 HIG

Highlanders with a chance to strike back after their scrum earns a penalty on halfway. Sopoaga kicks for touch and it's a lineout on the Crusaders' 22m.

15min: CRU 12-0 HIG

CRU TRY! Ruthless. Absolutely ruthless. From defending their line to scoring in the space of three minutes. Another penalty on halfway got the Crusaders to within 10m with a lineout and they nearly score off that but it's stopped just short. Hall responds with a massive skip pass to Havili on the left wing, about 15m in it, and he's in untouched. What a stunner.

12min: CRU 5-0 HIG

Welcome to the game, Crockett! Crusaders front row reverses a penalty as they get the Highlanders to buckle in the scrum. Mo'unga clears it for a lineout on their 22m. Early pressure diverted.

11min: CRU 5-0 HIG

No try yet but the Crusaders have given away another two penalties. Highlanders are remaining aggressive though. They've got a 5m scrum in the middle of the field. Attacking options either side.

8min: CRU 5-0 HIG

Highlanders with a big attacking chance after the Crusaders give away a penalty for being offside. They turn down the three on offer and kick for touch. 5m lineout coming up.

6min: CRU 5-0 HIG

Read making his presence known early as he almost gets a turnover. However he knocks it on as he looks to take the ball back so it's going to be a scrum. Joe Moody has been subbed off early with a leg injury so Wyatt Crockett officially earns his 200th cap as he comes into the game! Well done, Crockzilla! Highlanders scrum just inside the Crusaders' half.

4min: CRU 5-0 HIG

CRU TRY! It took them 17 phases but they're in! It's relentless from the home side as they remain composed with their attack. Finally, a hole opens on the left wing with numbers and Bridge is in. Perfect start.

1min: CRU 0-0 HIG

Horrid start for the Highlanders after Sopoaga's clearing kick goes high and nowhere. Bridge saws to take it and the Crusaders have the ball on the Highlanders' 22m.

KICKOFF

Mo'unga gets us going and we're off in Chch!

PRE-GAME

Crockett hears the trumpet and he comes out alone to a roar from the Christchurch crowd. He runs onto the field hand in hand with his sons. Nice tribute. Slowly the Crusaders come out after him. Highlanders aren't far behind. Moments away from kick off.

Also, just confirming. Liam Squire will start for the Highlanders. Dixon and Frizell are oun the bench.

WEATHER

Cloudy one in the Garden City tonight. Shouldn't have any rain though. Couple of light northerlies around as temperatures drop to 6 degrees.

PREVIEW

Crusaders Wyatt Crockett celebrates the win. Super Rugby, Crusaders v Blues, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand. Friday, 17 March, 2017. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

Crusaders Wyatt Crockett celebrates.

Source: Photosport

After a rough ride in Suva last week, the Highlanders are back on Kiwi soil but things don't get much easier with the Crusaders sporting plenty  of motivation for tonight's contest.

Firstly, it's Wyatt Crockett's 200th Super Rugby cap. The front-row stalwart began his Super Rugby career in 2006 against the same side he faces tonight, although he'll probably hope he doesn't break his finger in his first tackle like he did twelve years ago.

Then, there's also the return of another Crusaders icon with All Blacks captain Kieran Read back in the starting line up for the first time this season after recovering from surgery on his back.

Round that off with a desire to finish the season on a high with playoffs around the corner and things look more and more difficult in Christchurch for the visiting Southerners.

Still, the Highlanders are backing themselves to bounce back and have made tweaks to their lineup to do so.

Richard Buckman comes into the run-on side on the left wing to replace Tevita Li while James Lentjes takes over from Dillon Hunt on the openside flank.

The only other change from last week sees Liam Coltman start at hooker in place of co-captain Ash Dixon, who drops down to the replacements bench.

TEAMS

CRU: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody

Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele

HIG: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Richard Buckman, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire/Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (cc), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Pari Pari Parkinson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Fletcher Smith

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