Crusaders march past Force
Christchurch - The Crusaders froze out Super Rugby upstarts the Western Force in a 30-7 win on Friday, aided by two late penalty ties.
The seven-time champions rolled over the Force as temperatures dropped to zero at their home ground, leaving them second on the Super Rugby standings behind the Sharks.
The Force, the surprise packages in this year's competition, can still make the playoffs for the first time ever but will most likely need to win two of their final three fixtures.
For Todd Blackadder's Crusaders, a team bristling with All Blacks, the win puts them in the familiar position of building momentum towards the end of the season.
Unusually, it was two penalty tries in the last 10 minutes which decided the match, after referee Mike Fraser penalised the Force for collapsing lineout maul then twisting a scrum after the siren.
The Crusaders had early chances but could only edge ahead through two Colin Slade penalties as mistakes and solid defending blunted their attack.
Wing Johnny McNicholl made the breakthrough in the 24th minute, swooping onto an Israel Dagg pass to score in the corner after some patient build-up play.
Another Slade penalty made it 16-0 at the break, with the Crusaders claiming 85 percent of territory in the first half.
The Force hit back in the 48th minute when Dane Haylett-Petty spun through three defenders to score between the posts but it was not enough and the Crusaders held them scoreless for the rest of the match.
Tries: Johnny McNicholl, penalty tries (2)
Conversions: Colin Slade (3)
Penalties: Slade (3)
Try: Dane Haylett-Petty
Conversion: Sias Ebersohn.
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Tom Taylor, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Tim Perry
Substitutes: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Adam Whitelock, 23 Nafi Tuitavake
15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Patrick Dellit, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan
Substitutes: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Ryan Hodson, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Dillyn Leyds