That first 40 was a close one for both sides at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
The Crusaders still have that attacking awareness.
You see how the forward pack scrummaging looked the strongest as well as the finishing pace from Will Jordan & Richie Mo’unga’s accurate kicks.
But as usual, their line-out throws looked not straight as well as the defense out of hand at times.
The same can says so about the Highlanders regarding the defense having lost the scrums as well as some missed opportunities with the finishing.
But the attacking build-up play and taking the opportunity of the penalties with the credit of their forwards exposing the Crusaders’ weaknesses saw them earn valuable points up-front.
Going into the last 40, the Highlanders had opportunities to finish off in the attack despite winning a couple of penalties.
Unfortunately, the lack of execution and support markings from the backline allowed the Crusaders to sort things out.
And that has cost the Highlanders the chance to bounce back following their loss last Saturday v The Blues.
Instead, at least the last 25 minutes turned out to be a Crusaders’ masterclass.
From there, it’s just the away team building a patient set up before mixing up both the muscle of support forwards & dangerous pace backline that left the Highlanders’ defense into shreds by the final siren.
So the final score is Highlanders 20-40 Crusaders.