On a dry and mild west coast evening in front of a near capacity crowd of 4000 at Rugby Park, Greymouth, the Crusaders campaign got off to a flying start in front of their rugby faithful.

The Crusaders got off to a blistering start when second five, Ryan Crotty scored the first try three minutes into the match right under the posts which was then duly converted by Tyler Bleyendaal.

The Highlanders responded by winning the first line-out however their attack was nowhere to be seen in the first half as the Crusaders dominated possession.

Playing outstanding open rugby  Crotty touched down for a second time after a run from halfway following a loose ball, putting the Crusaders ahead 14 nil after just 18 minutes.

With the Crusader scrum dominating the backs flourished with quality ball and Crotty scored his hat-trick just over six minutes into the second quarter.

Only minutes later, first-five Tyler Bleyendaal scored and then promptly  converted to bring the score to 28 -0 to the Crusaders.

With the Highlanders dazed by the onslaught of attack, Willi Heinz scored the last points of the half with the Crusaders fifth try.

Halftime score: 35 - O to the Crusaders

The Crusaders scored first after the break with loose forward, George Whitelock crossing the line, however it  went unconverted with Bleyendaal's first miss of the day.

Following a raft of substitutes the Highlanders then began a comeback and spent most of the quarter attacking in the Crusaders half. They were rewarded with their first try with three minutes to go in the third quarter when prop, Bronson Murray touched down. Chris Noakes converted to bring the score to 40 to 7.

The Highlanders continued their attacking momentum with Nasi Manu scoring for Highlanders in the first minute of the final quarter.  

Crusaders debutant, hooker, Codie Taylor made a storming run from halfway to score the Crusaders last points for the match. Halfback, Andy Ellis converted from the sideline.

But with an admirable 'never say die' attitude in the closing seconds of the match, the Highlanders responded with a try by backs substitute Buxton Popoali'i.

Full time score: 47 to 19 to the Crusaders

Ryan  Crotty (3)
Tyler Bleyendaal (1)
Willi Heinz (1)
George Whitelock (1)
Codie Taylor (1)

Bronson Murray (1)
Nasi Manu (1)
Buxton Popoali (1)

Tyler Bleyendaal (5)
Andy Ellis (1)

Chris noakes (2)