Now 3 and 1 before their first bye of the season, the Crusaders scored four tries to lead 26-8 at halftime, then managed only a try apiece with the based Highlanders in a less dominant second half performance.
The Crusaders’ first half tries were mainly opportunist or against the run of play.
They were stronger than the Highlanders at set pieces but exerted no control over the match and were frequently stretched in defence.
“The ‘Landers are a quality side and we had to keep them out in that last 20 minutes,” Crusaders captain David Havili said.
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“We talked about getting our rhythm right this weekend and we got a wee bit of that throughout the game and I felt we nailed it at stages.”
But they again fell short of a complete performance by bombing several try-scoring opportunities.
The Highlanders scored the first points of the match from a penalty but the Crusaders scored the first try through Taylor in the 14th minute.
Flanker Tom Christie expanded the Crusaders’ lead in the 20th minute before the Highlanders cut their margin with a try to winger Michael Collins.
Ennor exploited lax defence to make the lead 19-8 and Bridge scored off a Highlanders error to give the hosts a 26-8 halftime buffer.
The Highlanders scored first in the second half but the Crusaders replied with a try to replacement flanker Sione Havili, which clinched their win and a bonus point.
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