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Crusaders crush 'Canes to move step closer to back-to-back Super Rugby titles

Ronan O’Gara is going to a Super Rugby final.

inpho_01402912 Richie Mo'unga outshone Barrett on this occasion. Source: Photosport/John Davidson/INPHO

DEFENDING CHAMPS THE Crusaders charged into their 13th Super Rugby final with a comprehensive 30-12 victory over the Hurricanes in Christchurch this morning.

The platform was set by the All Blacks-laden pack who drove relentlessly into the Hurricanes, allowing fly-half Richie Mo’unga the time and space to dictate play.

Source: Super Rugby/YouTube

In a match billed as the final before the final, with the conference format putting the top two teams from the regular season this year on the same side of the play-off draw while the Waratahs meet the Lions in this afternoon’s second semi, the Crusaders struck early and never fell behind.

The eight-times champions enjoyed 54% possession, forcing the Hurricanes to make 134 tackles and miss 31 more.

Their ability to launch a long-range counter from turnover ball, and to score either side of half-time, proved crucial as they built an 18-7 led at half-time and immediately moved to 25-7 after the resumption.

Ronan O'Gara Ronan O'Gara has worked as the Crusaders' assistant coach this season. Source: Photosport/John Davidson/INPHO

Captain Sam Whitelock said the Crusaders fed off the direction given by Mo’unga and a passionate defence.

“Richie’s done it all year. He’s pretty quick over those first couple of steps and is hard to keep up with.

“And defence reveals what the team means to you and the boys worked hard for each other.”

With a remarkable record of 20 play-off matches unbeaten at home, the Crusaders pack turned on a merciless display and laud a solid platform for Mo’unga to outshine his illustrious opposite number Beauden Barrett.

Beauden Barrett grounds it just short of the line Barrett falls just short. Source: Photosport/John Davidson/INPHO

Mo’unga finished with 15 points, starting with a try in the 15th minute after the Crusaders had hammered away at the line for several minutes.

A controversial Julian Savea score levelled for the Hurricanes, but they had to wait until injury time for their second score of the game as the Crusaders used turnover ball to pile on 11 points approaching the interval with a try to George Bridge and two Mo’unga penalties.

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Julian Savea scores a try despite Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue Savea's big reach got the nod from the TMO. Source: Photosport/John Davidson/INPHO

It was a familiar pattern at the start of the second half when the Hurricanes lost the ball when pressuring the Crusaders line and the immediate counter attack ended with a try to David Havilii more than 80 metres downfield.

It was turnover ball again which saw a Mo’unga crossfield kick produce a try to Braydon Ennor.

Braydon Ennor celebrates his try with Codie Taylor Braydon Ennor celebrates his try with Codie Taylor. Source: Photosport/Craig Morrison/INPHO

The Hurricanes bagged their second try in the final play of the day when left wing Ben Lam crossed for his record 16th try this year.

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