Crusaders beat Highlanders to clinch Super Rugby Aotearoa title

Winger George Bridge scored two tries in the space of three minutes in the second half to help the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 32-22 on Sunday and clinch the Super Rugby Aotearoa title with a match to spare.

The Crusaders moved to an unassailable 28 points, six ahead of the second-placed Blues, who host the Christchurch-based side in the final game of the domestic competition next Sunday.

The match was played at a frenetic tempo with the Highlanders taking a leaf out of the book of the Hurricanes, who beat the Crusaders two weeks ago, by refusing to take a backwards step and seize their points-scoring opportunities.

Loose forward Shannon Frizell scored a second-minute try after the Highlanders turned the ball over with an aggressive counter-ruck, while winger Jona Nareki made a crucial intercept and ran 80 metres untouched for their second try.

Crusaders’ fly-half Richie Mo’unga was responsible for all of his side’s first-half points with a converted try and two penalties that left his side only trailing 17-13 at halftime.

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