Cruising Crusaders clinch semi-final berth

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The Crusaders breezed into the Super Rugby semi-finals with a 17-0 victory over the Highlanders at AMI Stadium on Saturday.

On a rain-soaked evening in Christchurch, All Blacks Kieran Read and Codie Taylor crossed for first-half tries before a scoreless second period saw the home side into the last four.

The result - a departure from the three-point margin of the two regular-season matches between these sides - earns the Crusaders a home tie against the Stormers or the Chiefs, who meet in Cape Town later on Saturday.

The Highlanders lost Liam Squire to the sin bin inside five minutes and Richie Mo'unga - the man on the receiving end of the flanker's late tackle - kicked the first points of the match from the resulting penalty.

The Crusaders were dominating possession and territory but saw two opportunities to stretch the advantage pass them by as Mo'unga struggled with tricky conditions.

Read eventually made the pressure count with a try after 33 minutes, crashing over from a pick and go before Mo'unga rediscovered his kicking boots.

Another try followed on the stroke of half-time as Taylor snuck over, and Mo'unga's third successful kick proved to be the last points-scoring action of the match.

The Highlanders had left themselves with too much to do as the rain continued to pour down, making handling increasingly difficult as full-time approached, and the Crusaders held on to maintain their bid for a first title since 2008.