The Highlanders have suffered another loss in their final home match for the season, going down 40-12 to the Crusaders. A solid start from the home side gave their loyal fans some hope of a win, although the Crusaders ran away with it in the second half.
The Crusaders hit the board early with a Dan Carter penalty two minutes into the match, the Highlanders being caught offside. However, the home side wasted little time in securing their first points of the night, Ben Smith crossing over for a try following some nice team play and a good offload by Tamati Ellison. Colin Slade kicked the conversion to give the Highlanders a 7-3 lead inside the first ten minutes.
Jarred Hoeata received a yellow card in the 18th minute for foul play, however a determined defensive effort by the Southerners prevented the Crusaders gaining any immediate advantage from the extra man.
The Crusaders were finally rewarded for their efforts when George Whitelock finished off a good Dan Carter break, scoring a try between the posts. Carter added the extras to give his side a 10-7 lead 10 minutes before halftime. Another Dan Carter penalty after the halftime siren gave the Crusaders a 13-7 lead at the break.
The Highlanders survived an early second half attack, Zac Guilfords efforts being reviewed by the TMO, although a try was not awarded. However, moments later the visitors extended their lead tanks to an Andy Ellis try. Carter adding the conversion for a 20-7 lead two minutes into the second half.
Hosea Gear got the home side back on track when he dotted down in the corner, bringing them back in touch at 12-20. Ma’a Nonu became the second player sent off when he was given his marching orders for a dangerous tackle, although instead of a yellow card he received red which spelt the end of his night. Carter subsequently kicked the penalty for the dangerous tackle, extending their lead to 23-12.
Moments later Crusaders replacement hooker, Corey Flynn was also shown a yellow card for a stiff-arm on Aaron Smith, becoming the third player of the match to be sent off the field.
Dan Carter further extend the Crusaders lead through a penalty with 15 minutes remaining, followed minutes later with a converted try. Former Highlanders wing, Telusa Veainu put the final nail in the coffin with a great individual effort, scoring one of the tries of the night right on fulltime. Carter added the conversion to seal the 40-12 win.
Crusaders 40 (George Whitelock, Andy Ellis, Dan Carter, Telusa Veainu tries; Dan Carter (4) Penalties, (4) Conversions)
Highlanders 12 (Ben Smith, Hosea Gear Tries; Colin Slade Conversion)

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