Sportal.co.nz 23.Mar.2013Getty Images
Three storming runs by captain and No.8 Kieran Read in the lead-up to the first try of the night, scored by flanker George Whitelock, who ended up with a hat-trick of tries, set the tone for the game as the Crusaders ran in seven tries.
It was only when the bench was cleared that the penetrative qualities of the Crusaders were diminished but the method was maintained even if the execution wasn't as complete as when the more experienced combination was on the field.
Spreading the ball wide back and forward across the field, the Crusaders kept the pressure on the visitors, and showed that even from the set piece they were not to be under-rated, especially in their lineout drives which produced three of the first five tries.
Technique and power complemented the aerial skills of locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano while behind them first five-eighths Dan Carter was unerring with his goal-kicking landing five conversions and two penalty goals without error before he was substituted early in the second half by his replacement for the forthcoming South African tour Tyler Bleyendaal.
Prop Owen Franks didn't come out for the second half due to a calf strain which in view of that tour wasn't risked.
Luke Whitelock came on as a replacement for Matt Todd and was quick to make his mark with a 48th minute try when storming through tackles after a lineout move.
Wing Zac Guildford got himself heavily involved in the game and he featured with some strong running and defence.
Right on the half-time break the Kings made the most of a lineout maul to turn the pressure back on the home team for flanker Wimpie van der Walt to drive over.
Kings first five-eighths Demetri Catrakilis landed a conversion and two penalty goals for his side.
Wing Sergeal Petersen looked dangerous on the few occasions he could get his hands on the ball. On the opposite wing Marcello Sampson also showed good speed.
Fullback George Whitehead provided some solace for his side at the end when their own positive attacking play was rewarded with a try.
However, overall, the few occasions when the Kings secured ball errors in handling especially proved costly. The Kings also missed 12 tackles to one by the Crusaders while the line breaks were in the Crusaders favour and they enjoyed nearly 70 percent of possession.
Crusaders 55 (George Whitehead 3, Wyatt Crockett, Willi Heinz, Matt Todd, Luke Whitelock tries; Dan Carter 5 con, 2 pen; Tyler Bleyendaal 2 con) Southern Kings 20 (Wimpie van der Walt, George Whitehead tries; Demetri Catrakilis con, 2 pen; Whitehead con). HT: 31-13