'We weren't far off' - Highlanders unlucky against Crusaders, says coach

The Highlanders are being urged to keep their heads up by coach Aaron Mauger, following their 45-22 mauling at the hands of the Crusaders in Christchurch last night.

After suffering defeat against the Chiefs in Fiji last week, the Highlanders slipped to a 45-22 loss for the second week in a row, overpowered by a Crusaders side looking towards a tilt at back to back Super Rugby titles.

Speaking after the match however, Mauger insisted that the scoreline flattered the Cantabrians, and that his side put up more of a fight than the result suggested.

"I think you look at the scoreboard and it's a little bit flattering . . . but that's what the Crusaders do," Mauger said post-match.

"They're on top of the table for good reason.

"Look, there's a lot of that performance we can be really proud of . . . we just feel like we weren't far off at all.

"The Crusaders are a very clinical side and I thought they had a couple of opportunities and that was the difference in the end. They picked on a couple of defensive connections at critical times. That's the best side in the competition doing what they do."

Mauger's Highlanders currently sit sixth on the overall Super Rugby ladder, although are in danger of being overtaken by the Jaguares, who face the Bulls in Pretoria later tonight.