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The Crusaders ended up winning 28-26 in a pre-season match in Temuka last night.
The Highlanders led 26-0 at the break and looked a smooth-running machine.
But the Porsche turned into a Hillman Hunter after the break as the Crusaders hit top gear and turned the game on its head.
The teams changed the whole playing XVs in the second half and the Highlanders were off the pace.
The Crusaders slowly worked themselves back into the match.
Big Crusaders winger Timoci Tavatavanwi scored two tries and then prop Fletcher Newell went over with 10 minutes left.
The Highlanders tried to hang on but a lineout drive from the Crusaders near the end led to a try. Brett Cameron slotted the conversion to put the Crusaders in the lead.
Highlanders first five-eighth Caleb Makene had a chance to win the game with the final kick of the game but his penalty from 40m out fell short.
Overall, the Highlanders side which played in the first half was the most impressive of the four teams which took the field.
It was accurate in everything it did and found gaps in a leaking Crusaders defence.
Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava had a fine first 40 minutes as the southern side was clinical and had plenty of blll.
Mitch Hunt was instrumental in putting his side on the front foot and outside him Sio Tomlinson and Fetuli Paea ran hard.
Up front, the Highlanders were strong and dominated the set piece with some excellent body position.
The second half was not so good and not many players from the Highlanders put their hand up. Ball was spilt, plenty of rust was shown and the set piece was not great.