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It wasn't a vintage performance from the defending champions, rather more of a "job done" type win.
They looked a little disjointed at times, particularly in the second half.
But they executed better at crucial moments, scoring four well executed tries, controlling the game well with a lead and defending resolutely as the Highlanders had plenty of attacking possession.
The Hurricanes take on the Blues in Wellington tomorrow night. The Chiefs have an opening round bye before they host the Highlanders at home on March 5.
Shannon Frizell try, Connor Garden-Bachop try, Mitch Hunt pen.
Codie Taylor try, Bryn Hall try, Sevu Reece try, Brodie McAlister try, Richie Mo'unga 3 con.
Half time: 14-10 Crusaders
• Read full match report, comments in tomorrow's Otago Daily Times
- NZ Herald