Rugby - Crusaders show few weaknesses in semi-final win over Hurricanes

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(Reuters) - If South Africa's Lions are looking for advice on how to beat the Canterbury Crusaders in next week's Super Rugby final, Wellington Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has little to offer.

The Crusaders, eight-time champions, were at their ruthless best in Christchurch on Saturday as they overran the 2016 competition winners 30-12 to advance to their 13th final.

It was their 14th successive victory this season and followed a similar pattern of recent wins against the Otago Highlanders (45-22) and Sharks (40-10) where the opposition played well but appeared powerless to stop them.

"At the end of the day, the Crusaders are probably ... 20 points better than any side," Boyd told reporters after their semi-final.

"We didn't win any part of the game. There wasn't any part of the game that we dominated or even get parity. They were too good for us and we didn't get our game going and paid for it.

"They were relentless. They just kept putting us under pressure. It was just the constant pressure, you can't relax anywhere."

Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett, who was overshadowed by All Blacks team mate Richie Mo'unga, added that he would "be surprised" if the Lions managed to stop the Crusaders from winning a ninth title.

Mo'unga, 24, was named man of the match after he scored a try and 10 points with the boot and had a hand in the team's other tries to outside backs George Bridge, David Havili and Braydon Ennor.

While Mo'unga is unlikely to seize the number 10 All Blacks jersey from Barrett, he more than demonstrated the tactical awareness, game management and attacking skills that suggest he should be given an opportunity at the highest level.

He exploited the Hurricanes' porous first-half defence with his running, kept turning them around with his kicking game, and gave his backline good ball to attack at pace.

"Richie was great for us again," Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said. "It seems he has a great amount of time and made some clutch plays for us."

Mo'unga, while proud of his performance, singled out his side's defence as the key difference in the semi-final.

"Razor (Robertson) puts a lot of emphasis on our defence and that's one of our strengths," Mo'unga said.

"You look at the past, defence wins championships and we work hard on that ... it's something we pride ourselves on."

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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