Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders thrash Fijian Drua to overtake Brumbies into second place

The Crusaders have moved into second position on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder, overwhelming Fijian Drua 61-3 at Christchurch's Orangetheory Stadium.

In a one-sided affair from the word go, the Crusaders ran in nine tries and only conceded a penalty in response, leapfrogging the Brumbies into pole position behind the Blues for a possible home semi-final.

Even missing a host of key players through injury and rotation, it took the Crusaders just minutes to open the scoring in front of their home fans after a month on the road in Australia.

Sam Whitelock against Fijian Drua.
Sam Whitelock against Fijian Drua. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

With an overlap wide on the left, first-five Fergus Burke found Leicester Fainga'anuku unmarked to score the first of the night.

Fijian Drua hit back through a penalty to Teti Tela, only for that left-side overlap to trouble them again.

In almost identical fashion, the Crusaders touched down on the left, this time through openside flanker Tom Christie, showing plenty of strength against the Drua defenders to muscle over.

Sam Whitelock found himself as an unlikely scorer for the Crusaders' third, as he was put into space by Sevu Reece, reaching out to score just his ninth Super Rugby try, coming in his 171st game in red and black.

Leicester Fainga'anuku scores against Fijian Drua.
Leicester Fainga'anuku scores against Fijian Drua. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Reece went from provider to scorer to end the first half, as the winger found himself unmarked on the right flank to walk in for a try in his 50th match for the Crusaders.

Normally one for theatrics, Reece's celebrations were muted against a side he could well have been playing for in another life, after moving to New Zealand from Fiji as a teenager to chase a rugby career.

Up 28-3 at halftime, the Crusaders didn't relent in the second spell.

Playing in place of Richie Mo'unga, Burke made sure to take his chance in the starting No.10 jersey, and grabbed the first try of the second half, slipping through on the right and converting his own score for good measure. 

Reece then had a double, again making the most of an overlap to extend the score to 40-3 in favour of the home side.

And the scoring wasn't just left to the Crusaders' starters either, as replacement winger George Bridge also captialised on a numerical advantage out wide for the Crusaders' seventh try.

To make matters worse for the Drua, they were forced to play the closing stages with 14 men, as winger Selestini Ravutaumada was shown a yellow card after a head clash with Braydon Ennor.

Ennor then rubbed salt in the wounds, scoring for the Crusaders minutes later to bring up 50 points.

Christie had the final say, adding his second try of the night to finish the scoring as again, the Drua were caught wanting on the flank.

The bonus point win puts the Crusaders two points behind the competition leading Blues, albeit having played one game more.

The Blues can seal top spot on Saturday night, should they defeat the Brumbies in Canberra in what would also be a huge favour for the Crusaders in the hope of adding another Super Rugby title to their collection.

The Crusaders finish their regular season next week, hosting the Reds in Christchurch.

Crusaders 61 (Fainga'anuku, Christie 2, Whitelock, Reece 2, Burke, Bridge, Ennor tries; Burke 8 conversions)

Fijian Drua 3 (Tela penalty)