The BNZ Crusaders have made a big statement with a 20-12 shutout win over the Hurricanes to remain undefeated in 2017.
In a battle between the two best attacking teams in the competition, just one try was scored as the Crusaders bettered the Hurricanes in almost every facet of the game to secure a season-defining victory.
Prior to this clash the Hurricanes had averaged seven tries a game, but couldn’t get a look in against a BNZ Crusaders side that defended with intensity and offered few opportunities to a side that thrives on opposition errors. 
While the BNZ Crusaders were superior across the park, the biggest advantage came upfront where an All Black front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks dismantled the Hurricanes scrum at key moments.
It was billed as a blockbuster match and both teams started in a nervous fashion with uncharacteristic errors in front of a sold out crowd at AMI Stadium. While tries had come easy for both the Hurricanes and the BNZ Crusaders throughout the competition, it soon became clear there would be no try bonanza as the defence from both sides was at an intensity not seen before this season.
The BNZ Crusaders were combative at the breakdown, flat on defence and took the Hurricanes on at their own game with a number of pinpoint cross kicks in the first half that almost resulted in points.
Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett traded penalties to leave the halftime score locked up at 9-9. Interestingly, the BNZ Crusaders gave up 12 turnovers to the Hurricanes four in the first half. Normally the Hurricanes would make opposition teams pay for such a statistic but the BNZ Crusaders desperate defence snuffed out any Hurricanes opportunity.
The intensity lifted to another level in the second half as the BNZ Crusaders spent ten minutes camped on the Hurricanes line. Eventually the pressure told as Captain Matt Todd was rewarded for electing to go for a line out instead of taking a shot at goal. The skipper crashed over from a perfectly executed line out drive to score the first try of the match after 50 minutes.
Mo’unga and Barrett traded penalties again to make it 17-12 with 20 minutes to play. The Hurricanes are not used to being kept try-less and began to chance their arm outwide but the only player who looked like challenging the BNZ Crusaders defence was hard-running mid-fielder Ngani Laumape. Knowing they had to try something different to crack the BNZ Crusaders defence, the Hurricanes even sent Jordie Barrett up in a line out, but the Crusaders were just too well organised and clinical to give the Hurricanes even a sniff of a scoring opportunity. 
When Beauden Barrett was penalised for holding onto the ball, Richie Mo’unga confirmed his rising status by calmly slotting a difficult shot from 35 metres out to extend the BNZ Crusaders lead to 20-12 and deny the Hurricanes a bonus point.
The win made it 11 from 11 for the BNZ Crusaders under Scott Robertson’s leadership and meant the Hurricanes will remain in third place in the New Zealand conference. 
Next week the BNZ Crusaders travel to Fiji for another New Zealand conference blockbuster against the Chiefs while the Hurricanes host the Cheetahs in Wellington.
Crusaders 20 (Matt Todd try, Richie Mo’unga 5 pen)
Hurricanes 12 (Jordie Barrett 4 pen  HT: 9-9
Match report courtesy of