Richie Mo’unga sparkled as the Crusaders blew the Hurricanes away to reach the Super Rugby final with a 30-12 victory at AMI Stadium on Saturday.
The defending champions were relentless in Christchurch, overpowering their New Zealand rivals and showing great quality with ball in hand as well as magnificent defence to set up a showdown with the Lions or the Waratahs.
Fly-half Mo’unga gave another demonstration of his ingenuity, pulling the strings and scoring 15 points – including the first of four Crusaders tries – as his side stretched their unbeaten home play-off record to 20 matches.
George Bridge, David Havili and Braydon Ennor also went over in a dominant display from Scott Robertson’s side, who bossed the set-pieces and will be strong favourites to retain their title with home advantage next Saturday.
Julian Savea and Ben Lam touched down for the Hurricanes, but they were comfortably second best in Chris Boyd’s last match before taking over as Northampton Saints director of rugby.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) July 28, 2018
The Crusaders have never lost a semi-final or final against the Hurricanes and they were ahead 15 minutes in when Mo’unga threw a dummy and dotted down after a spell of sustained pressure.
Savea was awarded a try at the other end when he was adjudged to have grounded the ball reaching out under pressure in the corner, but Bridge stepped inside to put the holders back in front after more powerful work from the forwards.
Two Mo’unga penalties in as many minutes just before half-time gave the Crusaders an 18-7 lead at the interval and Havili took a pass from Bryn Hall before slicing his way through to go over early in the second half after great work from Jack Goodhue.
Mo’unga showed his class again to get his head up and set up Ennor for Crusaders’ fourth five-pointer with a sublime cross-field kick.
Prolific wing Lam crossed for the Hurricanes right at the end, but that was scant consolation, Brad Shields stepping up to strike the post with a conversion attempt in his final match before joining Wasps.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta