Winning a playoff is classic Crusaders but their performance wasn't one to get overly excited about.

Not until the final 15 minutes at least. It was only as the energy drained out of the Sharks that the Crusaders were suddenly free-wheeling and looking like the team they have been for much of this competition.

Until then, they were good enough to get the job done but never so good as to make the Sharks think they were chasing a hopeless cause.

Never so polished as to make the awaiting Hurricanes think they too are taking on mission impossible this week when they come to Christchurch for the semifinal.


But maybe the fact the Crusaders never quite found their flow until that last stretch and still won with such ease, should in fact be more troubling than had they smashed the Sharks off the face of the earth.

They are not exactly vulnerable and the fact they didn't play the way they wanted for long periods of the quarter-final should see them return for the semi with not a shred of complacency.

The Crusaders will no doubt spend this week refining a lineout that was troubled by the wind at first and then just seemed to lose its timing and confidence.

Their general handling and sharpness will need to improve as well as they never, other than the two clinical tries they scored in the first half, found the accuracy they usually have.

And maybe most importantly they will have to find a touch more urgency and dynamism in their ball carrying to give them a better chance of generating quicker ball.

It was their struggle in that department that affected them the most. The Sharks, who were good value after a wild opening 20 minutes, stood up physically and gave the Crusaders a similar sort of challenge to the one they will face this week from the Hurricanes.

It was only in the last 15 minutes that the Crusaders looked comfortable with it all and they will doubtless not be happy if that is the case again this week.

They will want to come out harder, faster and stronger and be more ruthless.

Which was threatening to be the case in the first 20 minutes. The Sharks couldn't do a thing right. Their lineout was a shambles, their midfield defence didn't work at all and they had no end of ingenuity in the way they made life difficult for themselves.

And of course, the Crusaders, presented with a wobbly opponent and an expectant home crowd, pounced hard.

They sent Ryan Crotty thumping through the middle in consecutive plays and both times he breached the defensive line, the Crusaders scored.

It was deadly stuff. A linebreak, support runners flooding round the ball carrier and perfectly timed passes.

First Bryn Hall scored then David Havili and when they went 13-0 up in just about as many minutes, there was a danger the Sharks were going to be knocked out long before they would have the stiff breeze at their backs.

But the Sharks, who played exceptionally well when they were in New Zealand for the conference games, tapped back into that inner belief they had the last time they were here and found their rhythm.

It was getting their driving maul that seemed to settle them and once they got a roll on with that and also started to own the gainline with the speed and accuracy of their defence, they wrestled back the momentum and looked more than comfortable dealing with the power of the Crusaders pack.

They couldn't grind out enough points however while they were in control and that window of opportunity, once open, was firmly slammed shut in the last quarter.

Crusaders 40 (B. Hall, D. Havili, M. Todd, B. Ennor, P. Samu tries; R. Mo'unga 3 cons, 3 pens)

Sharks 10 (J. van Wyk tries; R. du Preez con, pen)