Yellow card costs Highlanders
Crusaders run in seven tries to seal comfortable win
Last Updated: 01/06/12 11:58am
A ten-minute blitz from the Crusaders in the first half helped them secure a 51-18 win over the Highlanders.
The Crusaders had been trailing 13-10 but the wheels came off for the Highlanders when James Haskell was sin-binned.
The Crusaders took full advantage of the extra man to run in 22 points before finishing off the wounded Highlanders after the break.
George Whitelock, Zac Guildford (2), Ryan Crotty, Richie McCaw, Wyatt Crockett and Matt Todd all crossed for tries to seal the bonus point, with Dan Carter adding 16 points.
For the Highlanders, Chris Noakes slotted over two penalties and a conversion, while Tamati Ellison finished superbly and Hosea Gear snaffled a second-half intercept.
Whitelock drove over after three minutes, with the flanker squeezing through the smallest of gaps to open the scoring. Carter added the extras and then slotted over a penalty.
The Highlanders responded with a penalty from Noakes and the fly-half doubled his tally on 17 minutes when Whitelock was sin-binned for deliberately killing the ball.
And the Highlanders made the most of having the extra man when Ellison brushed aside Crotty and then Ben Franks to score. Noakes converted.
The Highlanders, though, were reduced to 14 men themselves when Haskell was yellow carded by referee Steve Walsh - with Carter slotting over the penalty.
There was worse to follow for the visitors as they leaked three tries in 10 minutes.
A superb chip over from Carter and quick hands from Quentin MacDonald released Guildford to show his electric pace and score.
And Guildford quickly crossed again with Carter's grubber kick popping up nicely for the All Blacks winger to dive over.
Carter converted and then added the extras as the Crusaders scored straight from the kick-off, with poor defending eventually allowing Crotty to cross between the posts.
McCaw rubbed salt into the wounds after the break when he was able to ground the ball from Andy Ellis' chip ahead following a rapier-like counter-attack.
Prop Crockett powered through three would-be tacklers for try number six as the Crusaders upped the pace of the game - with Carter's conversion increasing the score to 44-13.
There was some respite for the Highlanders when Gear intercepted Ellis' pass and raced 80 metres to score.
The Crusaders, though, had the final word as Todd scored following a textbook catch and drive from a lineout. Carter again added the extras.