Crusaders book home play-off
New Zealanders get the job done with first-half display
Last Updated: 14/07/12 11:12am
Early tries: Sean Maitland and Israel Dagg
The Crusaders cruised into the Super Rugby knock-out stages with a 38-24 win over the Western Force in Christchurch on Saturday.
It was a Jekyll-and-Hyde showing though from the Crusaders, who followed a commanding performance in the first half with a below-par second 40 minutes.
The seven-time champions wrapped up the four-try bonus point they were seeking by half-time as they raced to a 32-3 at the interval.
There was no doubt about who the stronger team was but the Crusaders were given wake-up call after the break as the Force bounced back with three good tries.
Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Andy Ellis and Matt Todd all touched down for the hosts in the first period although there was a tinge of controversy to Dagg and Ellis's tries with the TMO making marginal calls on both occasions.
With the job done, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter - who had kicked 15 points - did not come out for the second half and Todd Blackadder's team were guilty of getting a little sloppy.
Tom Taylor was charged with extending the lead from the kicking tee shortly after the restart but the Force finally got over the whitewash in the 55th minutes when replacement back Kyle Godwin created and then finished a try well-worked try.
Force full-back Alfie Mafi added his name to the scoresheet and Brett Sheehan provided conversions to both tries to reduce the gap at 35-17.
The hosts fluffed a few more opportunities to score but with further tries not really necessary, they were happy to allow Taylor to add his second penalty.
The Force kept coming however and when Josh Holmes crossed in the dying minutes and Godwin added the conversion, it meant the hosts had outscored the Crusaders 21-6 in the second half.