The Crusaders turned on the class in Christchurch to beat the Bulls 28-13 and book their spot in the Super Rugby semifinals.
The Crusaders ripped the Bulls apart. They dominated and made the Bulls look overawed, intimidated, frightened. The vistors were better in the second half but by then they were losing 16-3.
If you summed up the game by saying the Bulls scored two tries to one, you be only statistically correct, because when you look at that bald statistic it seems an aberration, such was the Crusaders dominace, and yet the Bulls had more chances to score tries than the Crusdaers had which tells some sort of story about the way the home side played.
Apart from their ability to shatter the opposition, they were not all that creative and it was the genius of Dan Carter that gave them their healthy victory. But then that is 'finals footie', where one point is enough for satistfaction.
The Crusaders' pack was the foundation. They were stronger than the Bulls at scrums and much stronger in the collsions. They were quick and vigorous to tackle and then got into the tackles with zest, winning the turnovers 11-4.
They also won the penalty count - 13-7 as the Bulls conceded eight -penaltiues in the second half. Their most penalised player was prop Dean Greyling. who conceded five penalties.
Then there was the kicking. The Crusaders kicked more often than one would have expceted which possibly explains their low try count but their kicking was far more effective than the Bulls' panic kicking with no chance of revovery or improving their situation.
Morne Steyn took a blow early on in making a tackle and was simply well below the competance of his usual game. In fact that was true even before he took the blow.
The first Crusaders' score was from a penalty - against Zane Kirchner for a tackle/ground infringement that was not entirely clear. 3-0 after 6 minutes. Then when Greyling was offside at a ruck in a most childish way Carter made it 6-0 after 11 minutes.
The Bulls had three casualties in the match. The first was hooker Chilliboy Ralepelle at 11 minutes. Later wings Bjorn Basson and Akona Ndungane also left the field injured.
The Crusdarers used a penalty to set them on the attcak but Carter missed a penalty. Steyn then dropped out straight into touch to give the Crusdares an attacking scrum. At this stage the game was all Crusaders.
From a scrum they went right a little, then left a l;ittle then right where Crater ran a clever angle to take out two defenders and send Zac Guildford racing through a gap for a try at the posts. 13-0 after 26 minutes.
The referee was playing advantage when Carter, right-footed, sent a drop soaring between the uprights. 16-0 after 33 minutes.
A penalty against Luke Romano gave the Bulls a five-metre lineout but they overthrew the throw-in. Luckily Pierre Spies got the ball and was stopped at the line. The Bulls bashed but lost the ball.
Adam Whitelock was penalised at a tackle and amidst unpleasant booing from the 16 000 crowd, Steyn goaled.
The Bulls started the second half like a team rejuvenated. They were energetic and played with ball in hand, but that rather fizzled out and penalties against Jaundre Kruger for a late tackle and Steyn for a high tackle took the score to 22-3.
Steyn kicked out near the Crusaders' line but the Bulls won Corey Flynn's throw. Jano Vermaak darted and was close. The Crusaders were penalsied and the Bulls tapped but lost the ball against the shattering defence, but another penalty gave the Bulls a lineout. They mauled and this time got it right, driving for the line where Dewald Potgieter scored. 22-8 with 17 minutes to play.
Greyling was penalised and Carter made it 25-8 with 10 minutes to play and then a penalty set the Bulls attacking from a lineout and maul. They went wide, their handling faltering till Kirchner snapped the ball up and made for the line, his pass sending Wynand Olivier over in the tight corner. 25-13 with three minutes to play.
The Bulls knocked the kick-off into touch, the Crusaders attacked and Deon Stegmann was penalised at a tackle. 28-13.
That was enough to make the Crusaders happy as they have a place in the semifinal and in the minds of many the likelihood of victory.
Man of the Match: Richie McCaw and his pack were great but the Man of the Match was Dan Carter who made it all.
Moment of the Match: Zac Guildford's try.
Villain of the Match: Nobody.
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Carter 6
For the Bulls:
Tries: D Potgieter, Olivier
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Richie McCaw (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Sean Maitland.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Deon Stegmann, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Francois Venter.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Keith Brown (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)