The Crusaders secured top spot in the standings for now after beating the Force on Friday 45-17 which also gave them a bonus point.
Digby Ioane, Matt Todd, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Codie Taylor, David Havili and Ben Funnell all scored to make up their seven tries as the seven-time winners made it five wins from five. The Force crossed twice in the game, through Alex Newsome and Chance Peni, and despite a spirited effort, were well beaten in the end.
They got the win and the bonus point but they were far from their best as they scrapped their way to victory. The Force was also much better than what this scoreline suggest and deserved a bit more. The Saders went out to keep the ball in hand and score tries whihc they did with four tries to two in the first half and another three tries in the second half.
Force winger Alex Newsome scored an intercept try while Chance Peni barged his way over to reduce the deficit to 28-17 at halftime.
The Crusaders discipline did let them down on either side of half-time as they conceded a string of penalties.
The scrums were also a complete mess, no thanks to referee Hoffmann and repeated infringements eventually resulted in a yellow card to Crusaders Tim Perry.
The Force failed to add any points to their score in the second half and they played with 14-men in the last ten minutes with Isi Naisarani to the sin bin, and in his absence Crusaders fullback David Havili and replacement hooker Ben Funnell went over to score two more tries.
The the prettiest we have seen but 5 points will count at the end for the Crusaders
Tries: Ioane, Todd, Barrett, Romano, Taylor, Havili, Funnell
Cons: Hunt 4, McKenzie
Yellow Card: Perry
Tries: Newsome, Peni
Cons: Lance 2
Yellow Card: Naisarani