Kieran Read scored a brace of tries and Dan Carter notched his 1,500th point in Super Rugby as the Crusaders boosted their title credentials with a 43-15 destruction of the table-topping Chiefs in Christchurch yesterday.
Fired by their New Zealand internationals, the Crusaders ran in five tries at their home AMI stadium to earn a bonus point and give themselves a chance of leapfrogging the Chiefs at the top of the New Zealand conference.
Both teams are playoffs-bound but the defending champions Chiefs suffered a big blow to their confidence ahead of the final round of regular season matches, turning in an insipid display bogged down by indiscipline and handling errors.
"[We] set a nice standard at the start of the game," Crusaders captain Read said after scoring a try in both halves. "We'll definitely take the win but we know we have to come back next week and start again."
Dominated at the breakdown, the Chiefs trailed 12-3 before winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma scored an opportunistic try from a cross-kick by scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
That was to be the last highlight for the visitors until a consolation try in the 73rd minute.
Number eight Read scored the Crusaders' first try on the stroke of half-time, darting for the line from the back of a ruck.
Carter's conversion put the Crusaders up 19-8 at the break. In the 43 rd minute fullback Israel Dagg danced through slack defence before pirouetting over the line for a try.
Carter slotted his second conversion, making him the first to notch 1,500 points in the competition, and finished with 18 points for the game.