Richie Mo’unga has pulled the strings in another masterful Crusaders performance, outclassing the Hurricanes 30-12 to reach another Super Rugby final.
The eight-time champions look poised to make it nine following an authoritative semi-final display in Christchurch on Saturday.
The scoreline didn’t reflect the dominance of the hosts at AMI Stadium, where they will host South Africa’s Lions.
It was a 14th-straight win for the defending champion Crusaders, who have looked increasingly unbeatable during the second half of the season.
Playing with speed, power and accuracy, they scored four tries to two.
Lively five-eighth Mo’unga continued his sublime form of recent weeks, bagging his team’s first and having a big hand in the others.
Mo’unga outplayed decorated All Blacks opposite Beauden Barrett, admittedly on the back of a lop-sided forward contest.
Having accumulated the second-most competition points this season, the Hurricanes were expected to mount a challenge.
However, their tight five was outplayed at the set piece, leaving them bereft of the go-forward ball their classy backline needs.
It was a disappointing way to end their tenures for head coach Chris Boyd, winger Julian Savea and captain Brad Shields, who are bound for the English Premiership.
Prolific test try-scorer Savea crossed for his 50th Hurricanes try midway through the first spell.
His effort was sandwiched by tries to Mo’unga and winger George Bridge.
Twin Mo’unga penalties pushed the Crusaders 18-7 clear by halftime and it was extended when David Havili crossed soon after the break.
Braydon Ennor crossed before Ben Lam bagged a late consolation, taking the big Hurricanes winger to a Super Rugby season-record 16 tries.
The result means the Crusaders have won all 20 home play-off matches in their storied history.
They could be without Jordan Taufua for the decider after the tough flanker exited in the first quarter with an arm injury.
He was replaced by Australian international Pete Samu.
Inside centre Ryan Crotty also needed a late head injury assessment and didn’t return.