Super Rugby: Crusaders comfortably beat 14-man Highlanders
By Sam Drury. Last Updated: 29/06/13 12:56pm
Dan Carter: The All-Blacks fly-half was at his influential best
A Dan Carter inspired Crusaders beat the Highlanders 40-12 under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin as Ma'a Nonu was sent off for the hosts.
The Crusaders earned a bonus-point victory as three second half tries helped to move them into fifth in the Super Rugby table, leaving the Highlanders two points adrift at the bottom.
Carter scored 25 points, including a try, as he showed his class by putting each of his eight kicks at goal between the posts.
In an entertaining contest the 'Landers defied their league position to score the opening try of the game through full-back Ben Smith.
However, the Crusaders led 13-7 at the break thanks Luke Whitelock's try. Carter converted and also kicked two penalties at either end of the half.
The second period started at a frantic pace and after Zac Guildford charged down Nonu's kick in the first minute of the half, Adam Slade had to be alert to beat the winger to the loose ball.
The Christchurch-based team were not to be denied for long though and after Tom Marshall broke through the Highlanders defensive line, he was able to slip the ball to scrum-half Andrew Ellis to touch down.
The home side's response was positive and replacement Aaron Smith was stopped just short of the line before Hosea Gear touched down in the corner to close the gap to just eight points with 25 minutes remaining.
Any comeback was halted almost immediately though with Nonu given his marching orders for a dangerous tackle on Marshall less than two minutes after the restart - the first red card of the Super Rugby season so far.
A Carter penalty extended the lead further before Corey Flynn was sin binned for a high tackle on energetic scrum-half Smith.
At 14-a-side the Crusaders remained in control and Carter helped himself to a deserved try before duly converting as he moved past 100 Super Rugby points for the season.
The 'Landers continued to push for another score but were caught out in the final minute. Carter was again involved before Telusa Veainu was unleashed to run the length of the pitch to finish superbly.
Fittingly it was Carter who had the last kick of the game to convert and round off a fantastic individual performance.