Highlanders 33 (Billy Harmon, Michael Collins, Connor Garden-Bachop tries; Mitch Hunt 4 pen, 3 con) Crusaders 12 (Codie Taylor, David Havili tries; Richie Mo’unga con ). HT: 16-7
FULLTIME - Incredible effort from the underdog Highlanders in Christchurch. Check out the highlights above and a full wrap here.
74 mins - TRY HIGHLANDERS - The Crusaders throw caution to the wind and loose pass is punced on by Garden-Bachop, who sprints 22m and slides over to score in the tackle. That's the final nail. Hunt converts.
74 mins - Mo'unga trying to make somehting happen near his own line, Landers swarm defensively.
73 mins - Highlanders playing the posession game, until Hunt opts for a touchfinder near the corner. Chip and chase from the lineout doesn't pay off and the Highlanders kill some time.
72 mins - Loose ball from the restart, Highlanders pounce. Frizzell carries inside the Crusaders' 22m...
70 mins - TRY CRUSADERS - Havili runs a superb line to wrestle his way over the chalk from close range. Game on! Mo'unga misses from handy range, that could come back to haunt them. (Highlanders 26-12)
69 mins - Early drive by the Landers. The Crusaders tap and go...Mo'unga pulled down inches short.
68th min - Crusaders penalty, they'll go to the 5m lineout again.
65 mins - Defensive scrum penalty Highlanders! Huge moment. Highlanders lineout near their own 10m.
62 mins - Crusaders back on the offensive. 5m lineout, Gregory makes a smotherng tackle on Cullen Grace to save a try. The Landers turn it over at the ruck, but are forced back into their in goal. Crusaders 5m scrum.
58 mins - TRY HIGHLANDERS - Too much pressure, Smith hits a streaking Michael Collins who slides over for a huge try. Conversion is an easy one.
57 mins - The Crusaders make a meal of the lineout and the ball is hacked deep downfield. Bridge can't clear it and the Highlanders are just metres out...
55 mins - Crusaders roll the maul from their lineout, free it at halfway. Generous penalty advantage played, and back we go. Crusaders will throw a lineout at the Landers 10m.
53 mins - Nareki sniffs a gap, he's been busy out there tonight. Highlanders right back on attack here, inside the 22m they go... Crusaders steal the defensive penalty.
51 mins - Penalty Highlanders. Hunt calls for the kicking tee. 22m out but he's close to the sideline... sends it through. First points of the second half. (Highlanders 19-7)
50 mins - The outstanding Fakatava leaves the field and on comes the world's best halfback. Not too shabby having Aaron Smith on your bench.
49 mins - Landers not settling for the clearing kick, Hunt probes the blindside and they break clear. Hunt kicks deep, Bridge does well to clean up at the back and Mo'unga sends a laser back into Landers territory.
47 mins - Great defensive line speeed by the Landers, shutting down any sniff by a Crusaders back. Losing ground, Jordan concedes and kicks for touch.
46 mins - Scrum penalty for the Crusaders, they'll launch from the Landers 10m line.
45 mins - Nareki with room to move, well taken out wide. Landers work through the phases, Ayden Johnstone spills one to kill the attack. Crusaders scrum 30m from their own line.
44 mins - Scrum penalty goes the Landers' way. Hunt relieves the pressure, lineout near halfway.
43 mins - 12 phases deep now for the Crusaders, but there's a knock on. Highlanders scrum near their own 22m.
41 mins - Can the Highlanders pull this off? We're about to find out. No changes for either team. Highlanders receive the restart, Fakatava sends it back into the Crusaders half. The hosts looking instantly energised, Havili taken at the 22m...
Second half underway...
42 mins - TRY CRUSADERS - Highlanders defence kills off the lineout maul, but the forwards continue with a relentless pick and go. Eventually it's that man Codie Taylor, one of the form players of the comp, who sneaks the ball onto the chalk from close range. How important may that try prove? Mo'unga converts comfortably and we head to the sheds.
40 mins - Bridge spins out of two tackles, penalty advantage being played. Crusaders will look to the corner and their lethal 5m lineout.
39 mins - Six phases deep, Landers edge towards the Crusaders 22m. Barrett in with a huge hit, Crusaders blow over it and win the ball. Go wide with a counter attack, crucial tackle made on a breaking Taylor. Scrum Crusaders at the Landers 10m, one final dig before the half.
37 mins - Highlanders scrum holds up for Hun to clear, finds touch near his own 10m. Crusaders go to teir first ruck, desperate for some late points, but the Highlanders are all over the breakdown and win yet another defensive penalty. Lineout just outside the Crusaders 22m. A chance for more points for the visitors.
35 mins - Crusaders on the offensive. Whitelock bullocks past the 22m. Nareki on the ball to save the Highlanders, but Fakatava's clearance is charged down and back into the Crusaders' hands. Uh oh, immediately knocked on. It's been that kind of night for the Crusaders so far.
32 mins - Penalty advantage cashed in, Hunt with a shot from close range, 22m out a slight angle...over it goes. (Highlanders 16-0)
31 mins - Mo'unga soars to reel in a bomb but the Landers turn the ball over at the ruck. Back insdie the Crusaders 22m they go, and with penalty advantage.
29 mins - Aerial ping pong ends with the Landers in credit. Hunt swings a wide ball to put Nareki into some clear air. Havili penalised at the ruck and here's another chance for Highlanders points. Hunt lines one up, about 30m on an angle from the left... this time he's dragged it left.
26 mins - Crusaders through Taylor, Goodhue with some room. Ball intercepted and Fakatava clears, Crusaders work it back to the Landers 10m, and another jarring hit forces the ball free. Highlanders scrum at their own 10m.
24 mins - TRY HIGHLANDERS - Inside ball to Parkinson, brought down inches short. Wide they go, Hunt sees the numbers, finds Billy Harmon who spins in the tackle and powers his way over the line, wrestling the ball to the ground through defenders. It's on here. Hunt from the sideline... slots it. (Highlanders 13-0)
22 mins - Highlanders on the attack now, after a slicing counter attack by Garden-Bachop. Dixon taken down, just 15m short now...
20 mins - Another strong run by Fainga'anuku puts the Crusaders on the front foot. Barrett carries, met with some stern defence. Nine phases deep and Whitelock knocks on, ranging out wide. Stinging defensive effort by the underdogs. They're up for this one. Scrum at the Landers 10m.
17 mins - Slick tactical touchfinder from Hunt, sets up a Crusaders lineout inside their own 22m. Havili bangs a massive punt in return, but the chasers are deemed offside. Hunt decides he wants to have another crack at the uprights, 38m on a slight angle... makes no mistake. (Highlanders 6-0)
15 mins - Brilliant work from Fakatava to pounce at a ruck just inches short of his own line and win his side an invaluable defensive penalty. Hunt finds touch near the Landers 10m.
13 mins - Nareki spots half a gap, almost sneaks clear. Landers making some decent metres, working back to their own 10m frm the kickoff. Fakatava bombs, Mo'unga spills the reception but the referee says that chasers were offside. Crusaders with their best chance so far, 22m lineout.
11 mins - Crusaders defence holding firm. Penalty blown up, Crusaders not releasing the tackled player. Mitch Hunt wants a shot at the posts. 35m near the left-hand sideline... strikes it sweetly. First points on the board. (Highlanders 3-0)
9 mins - Frenetic back and forth off the boot here. Highlanders with a chance now, lineout at the Crusaders' 10m.
7 mins - Landers win the scrum penalty. Hunt clears from the lineout. Havili returns fire, Hunt throws a ball that's tipped and intercepted, hen loops around to na an intercept of his own, clears deep. Lineout Crusaders.
5 mins - Crusaders break, Jordan into space. Havili sends a pinpoint crossfield kick into George Bridge's path but the wing can't hang on. That would've been five points in the bank. Scrum Highlanders inside their own 22m.
4 mins - Defensive penalty won by Sam Whitelock, swiftly to that ruck ball and the Landers didn't release. Mo'unga clears to a lineout at halfway.
2 mins - Mo'unga misses touch however, and the Highlanders are hot on attack, Hunt keeping the defence guessing as he's tackled - high - at the Crusaders 22m. Penalty advantage blown up. To a 5m lineout, we go.
1 min - Deep kickoff from Mitch Hunt. Crusaders return fire with a high ball, Garden-Bachop soars to reel it in and comes down heavily on his back. The referees want another look at this. Eventually they decide that the first infringement was actually an obstruction by Scott Gregory.
7pm - Both teams are preparing to make their entrance on a relatively mild Christchurch evening. There was plenty of rain about earlier but that seems to have cleared, should be decent - if a tad slippery - conditions for some running rugby out there tonight.
Kia ora and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the southern derby between the competition-leading Crusaders and the Highlanders from Christchurch's OrangeTheory Stadium.
The shorthanded Highlanders will have their work cut out for them if they're to push their rivals as close as they did in their 26-13 opening round loss, let alone become the first team to give the Crusaders a taste of defeat this season.
We'll have all the action for you from 7pm.
TAB betting odds:
Crusaders - $1.07 Highlanders - $7.30
Crusaders: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Scott Barrett (c), 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Ethan Blackadder, 7-Sione Havili Taltui, 8-Callen Grace, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-Leicester Fainga'anuku, 12-David Havilli (vc), 13-Jack Goodhue, 14-George Bridge, 15-Will Jordan
Reserves: 16-Brodie McAlister, 17-George Bower, 18-Olive Jager, 19-Mitchell Dunshea, 20-Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21-Bryn Hall, 22-Fergus Burke, 23-Sevu Reece
Highlanders: 1-Ethan de Groot, 2-Ash Dixon (c), 3-Siate Tokolahi, 4-Bryn Evans, 5-Paripari Parkinson, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-Billy Harmon, 8-Kazuke Himeno, 9-Folau Fakatava, 10-Mitch Hunt, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 13-Michael Collins, 14-Scott Gregory, 15-Connor Garden-Bachop
Reserves: 16-Liam Coltman, 17-Ayden Johnstone, 18-Josh Hohneck, 19-Josh Dickson, 20-Hugh Renton, 21-Aaron Smith (cc), 22-Caleb Makene, 23-James Lentjes
All Blacks wing George Bridge will make his first start of the season against the Highlanders.
The Crusaders flyer has been absent through injury, but Sevu Reece makes way for Bridge to take his place for the southern derby.
Coach Scott Robertson has named a near-full strength line-up flooded with All Blacks, including captain Scott Barrett and star first-five Richie Mo'unga.
The Crusaders can all but wrap up a spot in the grand final with a bonus-point win on Friday night.
The Highlanders have confirmed Sione Misiloi, Josh Ioane, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Patelesio Tomkinson have all been stood down for disciplinary reasons.
Coach Tony Brown says the six have been axed for "breaching team code".
"There's six guys, who are unavailable through letting the team down around their standards, broke the code that we live by and it's all around their professional habits," he says.
"They just let the team down, the leaders and the whole organisation, so they won't be available for selection.
"They have to earn their right to get selected again, so we'll see how they go for the rest of the week at training and see how they go next week."
"I'm disappointed, same as the whole organisation.
"They're always sorry. We've moved on, they've moved on and we look forward to the Crusaders now."
Brown didn't elaborate on the nature of the players' actions.
Folau Fakatava returns to the line-up, with All Blacks No.9 Aaron Smith coming off the bench.
The Highlanders currently bring up the rear of the Super Rugby Aotearoa, but are only five points back from the Blues in second.
While the Crusaders pose a daunting task, a bonus-point win would see the Highlanders jump to second spot for at least 24 hours.
Meanwhile, a season-ending injury to winger Freedom Vahaakolo (fractured foot) has forced a reshuffle to the back three.
Vahaakolo, who sustained the injury at training, will be replaced by Scott Gregory playing his first game of the 2021 season.
Jona Nareki returns from injury to the left wing and Connor Garden-Bachop will get his second start at fullback. Thomas Umaga-Jensen has earned a start and will partner the experienced Michael Collins in the midfield.