Bridge hat-trick and Read double keep Crusaders perfect

Crusaders have eight wins from eight in the 2017 Super Rugby season, with George Bridge and Kieran Read illuminating their latest victory.

George Bridge scored a hat-trick and New Zealand captain Kieran Read ran in two tries as Crusaders maintained their 100 per cent Super Rugby record with a 57-24 thumping of Stormers.

Bridge crossed three times in the space of 20 minutes as part of an indomitable first-half display from Crusaders, which enabled them to take Read - making just his second appearance after a spell on the sidelines - off at the break.

After a shaky start the New Zealanders took total control, with 22-year-old Bridge exploiting huge amounts of space on the left wing to notch a first-half trio.

Read ran in twice in the space of four minutes as Crusaders took a 36-3 lead into half-time, but Cheslin Kolbe and Bjorn Basson hit back for an improved Stormers.

However, tries from Michael Alaalatoa and Richie Mo'unga – who finished the match with 20 points – put paid to the South African franchise's hopes of a comeback and made it eight wins from eight for Scott Robertson's side.

Highlanders secured a fourth successive Super Rugby victory but a 40-15 bonus-point win against Sunwolves proved flattering.

The Dunedin-based franchise looked rusty after coming off a bye week and were pushed hard by Sunwolves, who ended up with nothing to show for a combative display.

All Black Malakai Fekitoa got Highlanders off to a great start with a fourth-minute try, but they did not add to their tally until five minutes before half-time when Liam Squire – who signed a new two-year deal this week – crossed.

Aaron Smith sent Tony Brown's side into the break with a deceiving 21-3 lead, and Matt Faddes' double and a score from Ben Smith put them out of sight early in the second half.

Sunwolves refused to give up and impressed in the closing stages, with Willie Britz and Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco reducing the deficit.

Western Force were unable to build on their victory over Southern Kings last time out but put in a valiant display in a 16-7 loss to Chiefs.

Liam Messam and Matt Hodgson traded scores in a tight first half, but a trio of Aaron Cruden penalties in the second period proved the difference.

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