Among the toughest decisions Crusaders players have to make during their bye week is what to do with their free time. For Scott Robertson and the coaches it's a little more challenging: how to pick a squad for their quarterfinal when almost everyone is available.

The performance by the red and blacks to dispatch the Rebels 66-0 in Christchurch on Saturday was one of their best of the season and it followed a challenging couple of weeks, the most significant of which was a humiliation at the hands of the Chiefs in Suva.

In retrospect, and not surprisingly given the pedigree of this team and talent available to Robertson, the Fijian fumble was just the rocket they needed.

Their backs scored all 10 tries, with wings Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor scoring hat-tricks and fullback David Havili scoring a double, with fellow outside back George Bridge on a rest week and the promising Will Jordan, who recently announced he is staying at the franchise for another three years, not able to crack the match-day squad.


Similarly, All Blacks tighthead prop Owen Franks is on target to return from his shoulder injury in the quarterfinal following this weekend's bye, and hooker Codie Taylor is similarly poised after recovering from a broken finger.

All Blacks loosehead Tim Perry successfully got through 30 minutes after returning from a broken arm suffered in round one and will be hungry to continue. It is virtually an embarrassment of riches for Robertson and company as they seek to defend their title.

"The 66 is just as good as the 0," Robertson said afterwards. "It was a pretty special effort. There were some very good individual efforts.

"Just as important as the score, we came off with a clean bill of health. Everyone's fresh. In just over a week's time we have some big decisions on our squad with Owen Franks coming back and Codie Taylor coming back as well. Full squad coming into 'finals one', it's good but we're also aware of last week and how quickly it can change as well.

"The Chiefs game was timely and we made it timely for ourselves with our review last week."

The Rebels appeared to walk into a perfect storm in Christchurch because, while it was cold, the pitch and ball remained relatively dry and it allowed the Crusaders to exploit space and a poor defensive display in general far more ruthlessly than the week before.

The home side fluffed a couple of tries – most obviously Kieran Read, who otherwise had an excellent match, and Ennor, who also dropped the ball with the line open – but otherwise their kicking and passing was as sharp as their head coach's nickname.

The visitors also appeared to have an eye on next weekend's match against the Chiefs in Melbourne, the result of which will dictate whether or not they make the playoffs. If they do, their reward could be a trip back to Christchurch.


"We knew they were going to give us some kick space," Robertson said. "We didn't take it last week against the Chiefs and we did today very well. When you've got speed and someone like Sevu who can create so much, just give him the ball as quickly as you can."

As the Chiefs proved in fighting back against them a week ago, there are few guarantees in sport but the Crusaders have the home advantage, desire and, perhaps most importantly, depth to do it all again in Christchurch this year.

"To win a championship a lot has to go right," Robertson said. "Full squads, full teams, give you every chance to go through in that final series."