Fiji Sun - - Sport -

The Cru­saders have kept pace with the Chiefs at the top of Super Rugby’s New Zealand con­fer­ence by thump­ing the Mel­bourne Rebels 8526 in Christchurch last night.

The home side ran in 13 tries to four, with wing Johnny McNi­choll getting a hat-trick, as they cel­e­brated standin skip­per Sam White­lock’s 100th match in style. With one round to go, the Cru­saders are back to a point behind the Chiefs, who had se­cured their own bonus­point vic­tory on Fri­day against the Queens­land Reds. But the Cru­saders, smart­ing from their loss to the Chiefs in Suva, had plenty to play for. With reg­u­lar cap­tain Kieran Read given a rest, White­lock led from the front, with the lock charg­ing for­ward from the kick-off and then scor­ing the first try in­side two min­utes. The Cru­saders con­tin­ued to show plenty of at­tack­ing in­tent as they went on to run in seven tries in the open­ing spell, with cen­tre Ryan Crotty grab­bing a dou­ble. They were helped by han­dling er­rors, turnovers and missed tack­les by the Rebels, who also strug­gled at set-piece. The vis­i­tors had some­thing to

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