The Crusaders got the work out they wanted against the Sharks but know all too well their Super Rugby nemeses lie in wait in the semi-finals.
New Zealand’s two powerhouse clubs will clash next week when the Hurricanes travel to meet the defending champions in Christchurch.
The Hurricanes are the only team who can claim to have the measure of the red and black machine in recent times, having won eight of their past 12 meetings.
With captain Brad Shields, coach Chris Boyd and winger Julian Savea all moving on, the visitors will be highly motivated and buoyed by their impressive quarter-final win over the Chiefs on Friday.
The Crusaders’ were more methodical than exceptional 24 hours later against South Africa’s Sharks, pulling clear late on to win 40-10.
Coach Scott Robertson described the five-tries-to-one performance as ideal.
“You want to be battle-hardened and we got that,” he said.
“They were big men. We had to defend for long periods of time. We got the turnovers we needed, capitalised and got over them in the end.”
A patchy lineout display and inability to capitalise on line breaks held them back but Robertson found little to fault with their tenacity without the ball.
“It’s getting off the ground, working hard and not giving penalties away. We’ll need that again,” he said.
Leading the way was industrious flanker Matt Todd, who marshalled the defensive effort and had a hand in two tries.