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Crusaders hit party mode in romp over Highlanders

The Crusaders scored four first-half tries in front of an ecstatic home crowd, capitalising on some woeful Highlanders defence.

The Crusaders in action against the Highlanders in their Super Rugby match on 21 February 2020. Picture: @SuperRugbyNZ/Twitter

WELLINGTON - Reigning champions the Crusaders celebrated 25 years in Super Rugby with a 33-13 demolition of New Zealand rivals the Highlanders in Christchurch on Friday.

The 10-time title winners chose this week to celebrate the Southern Hemisphere competition's silver jubilee, inviting more than 200 former players to a post-match function in their hometown.

The current players turned on the style as their predecessors looked on, scoring five tries to two as they bossed the South Island derby.

The Crusaders scored four first-half tries in front of an ecstatic home crowd, capitalising on some woeful Highlanders defence.

The visitors' task was made more difficult when Shannon Frizzell was sin-binned early after the break for a tip-tackle on Braydon Ennor.

The Highlanders lifted and were rewarded with a try to Jona Nareki, but Sione Havili put the result beyond doubt when he crossed the line with six minutes left on the clock.

"It's very pleasing. We were just looking to put pressure on them and we achieved that," Crusaders number eight Tom Sanders said.

"We got a few over the line and got the result we needed."

Highlanders centre Josh Ioane said it was difficult to recover from the Crusaders' try-scoring burst in the opening 40 minutes.

"It was tough, they came out hissing in that first half but we were better in the second half," he said.

"But early on, if you give them an inch they'll punish you."