Highlanders beaten in quarterfinal

George Bridge evades the tackle of Tei Walden as Rob Thompson chases during the Crusaders win...
George Bridge evades the tackle of Tei Walden as Rob Thompson chases during the Crusaders win over the Highlanders at Christchurch tonight. Photo: Getty Images
It was always going to be a big ask.

The Highlanders have been beaten 38-14 in their Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Crusaders in Christchurch tonight.

Two tries from lineout drives early in the second half proved key as the Crusaders asserted their dominance.

It had been 17-14 at that point, but the Highlanders were left a man down when Liam Squre was yellow carded for a no-arms tackle five minutes after the break.

Whether that was the reason for the two tries was the debate - but it did coincide with the Crusaders pulling away.

An all too easy lineout drive from a penalty allowed the hosts to make it 24-14, the Highlanders defence offering little resistance.

They committed more to stop the next one.

However, the Crusaders peeled off and Michael Alaalatoa crashed over off a second phase pick and go.

That made it 31-14 and from there the Crusaders were fully in control.

The Highlanders were unable to launch a genuine attack in the final 25 minutes.

Meanwhile the Crusaders were able to extend their lead via a Richie Mo'unga kick chase.

Prior to halftime things had looked more promising.

The Highlanders competed well through the first half and hit back just as the Crusaders looked like pulling away.

Richie Mo'unga gave the hosts an early 3-0 lead, but the next 15 minutes was all Highlanders.

The Crusaders were unable to exit from the kickoff and the Highlanders mounted pressure.

They brought physicality and looked dangerous on the front-foot.

While the Crusaders defence held out for a while, a Rob Thompson offload helped set up Sio Tomkinson for the first try.

The Crusaders hit back twice - once from a well-worked try from a maul and once from some lovely interplay for Mo'unga to score out wide.

That made it 17-7, but just as the Crusaders looked to pull away, the Highlanders hit back.

After forcing the Crusaders to carry a kick in behind back over the line, they were initially denied off a 5m scrum.

However, they got another scrum after Jackson Hemopo was held up over the line.

This time they made no mistake, Tei Walden hitting a good line to score off the set piece under the posts and make it 17-14 at halftime.

The Crusaders will play the winner of the Hurricanes v Bulls quarterfinal in Christchurch next week.

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