THE Crusaders, under pressure to begin where they left off against the Blues before their bye, demolished the Highlanders 51-18 at Christchurch Stadium tonight.
Like the Crusaders, Jamie Joseph's men had play-off pretensions heading into this match played in front of a capacity 21,000 crowd. They were only two competition points and two places behind the red and blacks in seventh overall. After this defeat, their job just got a whole lot more difficult.
Todd Blackadder's men, on the other hand, will relish the challenge the rest of the season represents once it gets going again after the international break.
This was seen as a litmus test for their title credentials and they passed with it flying colours. After something of an inconsistent season, the Crusaders showed they have the right stuff, especially at home where they are undefeated this season.
Zac Guildford, called into the All Blacks as an injury replacement, showed he might just walk into the All Blacks' first test team against Ireland with a busy, two-try performance.
In all the Crusaders scored seven tries, featuring some stunning attack which left the Highlanders often chasing shadows.
Read more on the NZ Herald.