A Crusaders outfit without 12 All Blacks stars have coasted to a comfortable 44-8 win over the Force at nib Stadium.
The reigning Super Rugby champions did not work their way out of first gear in a wire to wire win which highlighted the depth - particularly up front - which coach Scott Robertson has at his disposal.
The home side threw their best at the Crusaders through the first five minutes - unable to make any serious inroads in a defence which held firm - and from that point forward the Crusaders were in complete control of proceedings.A power try - which encourages teams to run the ball from their own 22 by awarding nine points for a converted try - was on offer when the Crusaders first got their hands on the ball and immediately some space was created for Manasa Mataele down the right wing, the Fijian flyer dropping the ball inside to Mitchell Drummond, who duly scored.
The Force responded with a sublime team try of their own in the 11th minute - flyhalf Andrew Deegan spearing a cutout across to Masivesi Dakuwaqa, who offloaded to Peter Grant, the South African national flicking a freakish ball back to Ian Prior for the home side’s first.
But that was against the run of play, the visitors returning serve through Mitchell Hunt before the two sides trading penalties in an otherwise dour 20 minutes leading up to the break.It took just one minute for the visitors to extend their lead when play resumed, a George Bridge break and athletic Mataele finish opening up a 23-8 margin.
Drummond nabbed a double five minutes later, Mataele and centre Rameka Poihipi exploiting Rod Davies' defensive deficiencies once more to set up the try.
The Crusaders pack were cueing up outside of Bryn Hall at this point, all awaiting their turn to crash over.
It was Seta Tamanivalu who crossed next, though, Hall putting him through a huge hole for a soft five pointer.
Tima Faingaanuku put the icing on the cake, again splitting the Force down Davies’ edge en route to the line to round out a resounding win.
Power Tries: Drummond
Tries: Drummond, Hunt, Mataele, Tamanivalu, Faingaanuku
Cons: Hunt 6