New Zealand-Crusaders cruise after Savea sin bin costs Hurricanes

(Reuters) - Canterbury Crusaders put on a ruthless display to pick up a bonus point 33-16 victory over Wellington Hurricanes on Sunday to maintain their winning start to Super Rugby Aotearoa at Christchurch Stadium.

The match had been moved from Saturday in the hope coronavirus restrictions would be lifted to allow a crowd for the reigning champions' first home match of the season.

Fans saw a game that pivoted on Ardie Savea's first half yellow card, with the Crusaders scoring three converted tries to take a commanding lead while the forward was off the field.

Scott Robertson's team notched up the win after opening their campaign with victory over the Otago Highlanders in last week's first round.

The Hurricanes were dominant during the opening 15 minutes, taking a 6-0 lead through a pair of penalties from Jordie Barrett and the Wellington side were narrowly denied a try when Jackson Garden-Bashop was stopped millimetres from the try line.

Crusaders started to push deeper into the Hurricanes territory and the pressure paid off when Savea earned a yellow card and a spell in the sin bin for collapsing a maul.

Savea's time on the sidelines was to prove the turning point in the game as Crusaders scored three converted tries against the shorthanded visitors to take a commanding lead.

Codie Taylor ran a quick penalty from five metres out over the line and Richie Mo-unga converted to give the home side the lead in the 22nd minute.

Mo'unga then crossed the line three minutes later to extend the lead before kicking his own conversion, and Ethan Blackadder added a third ahead of another successful Mo'unga kick.

Scott Barrett touched down for an unconverted try as the Crusaders took a 26-6 lead into the break.

Taylor scored his second try of the game - again converted by Mo'unga - seven minutes into the second half when he capitalised on an overthrown line-out ball from substitute Rickey Riccitelli.

Riccitelli redeemed himself when he powered over the line at the other end and Peter Umaga-Jensen reduced the deficit further in the dying seconds to earn the Hurricanes some consolation.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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