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Crusaders move into playoffs spot, for now


The Crusaders simply refuse to die in the race for the final Super Rugby Pacific playoffs berth.


The Crusaders scored seven tries, from six different scorers, as they romped to a 43-10 victory over last-placed Moana Pasifika in the season finale at Christchurch's Apollo Projects Stadium on Friday night.


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With their second straight victory - just the fourth of the season - the Crusaders moved to 24 points, jumping ahead of the Fijian Drua and Western Force for eighth, as they look to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015.


Rob Penney's squad will now await Saturday's results, needing the Drua to lose to the Melbourne Rebels in Lautoka in the afternoon and the Force to fall to the ACT Brumbies in Perth late-night.


But the Crusaders did their part on Friday night, with All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor scoring two tries as they dominated Moana Pasifika to lead 26-10 at halftime.


The Crusaders forwards' superiority flashed in the first half, scoring three tries from attacking lineout drives, before they cut Pasifika open out wide the second half.


Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific
The Crusaders ran in seven tries in the 33-point win over Moana Pasifika. PHOTO: SUPER RUGBY

Ethan Blackadder finished off a 5m lineout drive in the 18th minute, before Taylor was at the back to a maul from 10m out in the 23rd minute and another in the 32nd from closer to the try-line.


In between, Moana Pasifika wing Fine Inisi scored from a slick attacking move off the back of a lineout, but was yellow-carded in the 31st minute, leading to Taylor's second try and another to veteran second-five Ryan Crotty, in possibly his final game for the Crusaders.


Halfback Noah Hotham scored a spectacular solo try soon after the resumption, regathering his own high-bouncing attacking kick to score, while centre Dallas McLeod carved through for an easy try in the 55th minute.


McLeod turned provider for the Crusaders' last try, with wing Macca Springer latching onto an awkward cross-field kick at pace, sprinting 35m to the left corner.


Crusaders 43 (Ethan Blackadder, Codie Taylor 2, Ryan Crotty, Noah Hotham, Dallas McLeod, Macca Springer tries; Fergus Burke 4 con) Moana Pasifika 10 (Fine Inisi try; William Havili con, pen). HT: 26-10

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