As sure as the sound of Green Sleeves on a badly distorted PA system means children start whining for ice cream, the halfway point of the Super Rugby season means the Crusaders shift into gear.

Outside of their home province, there is little love on New Zealand shores for teams in the red and black of Canterbury. That can mostly be put down to envy. But even the most mean spirited of North Islanders had to admire the ruthless efficiency of tonight's 40-20 thumping of the Brumbies.

Yes, the champions-elect. The Canberra-based assumed inheritors of the now-wobbly Chiefs' mantle were made to look very ordinary.

When it comes to waving the New Zealand standard - and reaffirming the "our-conference-is-harder-than-yours" assertion of all Kiwi rugby fans, no one does it better than the Crusaders.


When one of the visitors' forwards aimlessly kicked the ball away just before halftime - leading to the decisive Crusaders' try two minutes and a dozen or so short phases later - the tone of the game was decided.

So, those Crusaders fans who were enjoying a rare daytime footy display had much to celebrate. And good on them. They supported their team with a sellout crowd at AMI Stadium - sending a powerful message to the NZRU about the appeal of decent kickoff times. Things are looking up in Christchurch - it's been at least a fortnight or so since they've had a 100-year flood.

The result also means that (at the moment this is written) just two points separate the New Zealand teams. So, in conclusion: Oi! Australia and South Africa! Our conference is harder than yours!