Trailing at half-time, the Crusaders overcame the Highlanders to dodge a make-or-break date with the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Crusaders 32-22 Highlanders: Reigning champions seal Super Rugby Aotearoa title


The Crusaders clinched the Super Rugby Aotearoa title after coming from behind to beat the Highlanders 32-22 on Sunday.

An expectant crowd at a sold-out Orangetheory Stadium appeared set for disappointment until George Bridge crossed twice in three second-half minutes to completely alter the complexion of the game.

Braydon Ennor, back from a foot injury, scored the sealer five minutes from the end to ensure the reigning champions can relax going into next weekend's final-round clash with the second-placed Blues.

The Highlanders had frustrated their hosts for much of the first hour after Jona Nareki added an intercept try to Shannon Frizell's shock second-minute opener.

Richie Mo'unga touched down between those tries and reduced the margin to four points at half-time with a second successful penalty attempt.

Bottom of the New Zealand conference, the Highlanders continued to spoil the party after the interval as Josh McKay denied Bryn Hall a certain try before the excellent Josh Ioane created a chance for Michael Collins to dive over.

But the tide turned just as the Crusaders were getting desperate, with 25-year-old back Bridge put through twice in quick succession.

All momentum shifted to the 10-time Super Rugby champions and they wrapped up top spot when Ennor crossed in the closing stages.



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