The Crusaders picked up their seventh win from eight games this season as they outclassed the Brumbies 40-14 in Canberra on Sunday.
It was a hugely impressive performance from start to finish from the seven-time Super Rugby champions, with clinical tries coming from Nemani Nadolo, Jone Macilai, Israel Dagg, Codie Taylor (2) and Marty McKenzie.
For the Brumbies this was another tough day at the office and the result leaves them trailing the Rebels by one point in the Australian conference. Another concern for them was the sight of Joe Tomane limping off late on.
It was an outstanding opening half for the in-form Crusaders as they went into the dressing rooms holding a 26-7 advantage via four tries.
Their first came in the sixth minute when the impressive Nadolo fed off the side of an attacking scrum, with Kieran Read finding his wing on the shoulder for a carry over the line. That left a simple conversion for fly-half Richie Mo'unga as the Crusaders hit the front early.
Credit to the Brumbies though who did strike back moments later when after scrum-half Tomás Cubelli tapped quickly, the ball came left to where hooker Stephen Moore set up wing Robbie Coleman for the finish. Like Mo'unga, Christian Lealiifano was successful, with his a difficult effort.
One sensed that the Crusaders had the bit between their teeth and so it proved as on 14 minutes, turnover ball saw flanker Matt Todd set off before finding Macilai for their second. When Nadolo fired out an incredible offload for Dagg to race over soon after, it was suddenly 19-7.
That Dagg score was arguably the pick of the bunch but the Crusaders weren't done there as a rolling maul led to Taylor getting in on the act. Despite the Brumbies finishing the half on the front foot, it was definitely a 40 minutes to forget for the home side in the sunshine.
Hope was achieved for the hosts in the 45th minute when Tomane finished smartly on the right wing for a converted score. It was short-lived as the Crusaders moved back into bonus-point territory in the 52nd minute when Havili set up Taylor for his double to make it 33-14.
Todd Blackadder then turned to his bench and such was the Crusaders' day that it was one of their replacements who was next to cross, fly-half McKenzie spotting a gap near the uprights to run over. His conversion pushed the lead out to 26 points with 15 minutes still to play.
It was then a defensive shut-out from the men in black and red as they wrapped up the victory by keeping the Brumbies, who lost Tomane to injury, at bay, going into their Super Rugby bye week with their tails up.
Tries: Coleman, Tomane
Con: Lealiifano 2
Tries: Nadolo, Macilai, Dagg, Taylor 2, McKenzie
Con: Mo'unga 4, McKenzie
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Robbie Coleman, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano (cc), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (cc), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Sean Wainui, 23 Marty McKenzie
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry, Ed Martin
TMO: Ian Smith