The Highlanders have claimed a stunning 33-12 victory over their south island New Zealand rivals the Crusaders at the home of the 10-time Super Rugby champions.
The Crusaders were the strong favourites going into the game with their local rivals, having eased to four wins in their first four matches of the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
No team had gotten within 13 points of the Crusaders going into Friday’s clash in Christchurch, but the struggling Highlanders threw out the form book to hammer the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions.
The boys have done it!!! Your boys have beat the Crusaders 33-12 in a thrilling game 💥😍
We are back under the roof next week to take on the Chiefs in what will be a game you don’t want to miss 🎉
— Speight’s Highlanders (@Highlanders) April 2, 2021
The Highlanders were rooted to the bottom of the Super Rugby Aotearoa table before the game, but completely outplayed their opponents to end a seven-game losing streak against the Crusaders.
The visitors stormed into a 16-point lead in the first half, thanks to three penalties from player of the match Mitch Hunt and a converted try from Billy Harmon, before the Crusaders’ Codie Taylor got a try back on the stroke of half time.
That try did little to change the fortunes of the Crusaders however, as the Highlanders dominance continued in the second half to comfortably beat New Zealand’s pace setters.
Billy Harmon you beauty! 👏🏼
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 2, 2021
Race for the final blown wide open.
The result puts the Crusaders’ chances of a home final in jeopardy, as the Blues have the opportunity to narrow their lead at the top of the table to just three points with a win against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Blues were comfortably beaten by the Crusaders in Eden Park just two weeks ago, but the reigning champions’ abject performance against the Highlanders will give the Auckland side confidence in getting a win in Christchurch.
While the Crusaders will remain as the favourites to retain their title, the Highlanders victory has shown that the most successful side in Super Rugby history do have weaknesses that can be exposed.