The Southern Kings put in a brave performance against the Crusaders in Christchurch, putting the first points on the board in the 8th minute with a penalty conversion by Louis Fouché.
An intercept try by Luzuko Vulindlu in the 12th minute and converted by Fouché, put the Kings in the lead 10 points to nil.
However, the Crusaders regained their composure, with the first of three tries run in by giant winger and man of the match, Nemani Nadolo in the 15th minute, which Richard Mo’unga converted.
The Crusaders built momentum with Johnny McNicholl dotting down over the whitewash in the 18th minute and Ben Funnell following shortly after in the 22nd minute, with Mo’unga converting the first but missing the second.
Nadolo received his second try of the match in the 33rd minute, after a TMO referral wherein match officials decided to award the try, which was converted by Mo’unga.
A missed penalty conversion by Fouché in the 35th minute and another missed conversion by Crusaders David Havili on half time saw the Crusaders going into the break 29 points to the Kings 10.
The Kings once again battled in the first ten minutes of the second half, with Mo’unga running in a try of his own in the 45th minute, and converting it, followed by a try by Mitchell Drummond in the 49th minute, converted by Ben Volavola.
Edgar Marutlulle, who came off the bench in the 47th minute for Martin Ferreira, had an immediate impact and crossed the whitewash for a try in the 51st minute of the game, which Fouché converted to take the score 48 to 17.
The Kings showed promise as they built up through the phases in the Crusaders half, while the Saders discipline saw them concede three penalties – receiving a warning from referee Will Houston – while the Kings were in the red zone.
Despite momentum and keeping the ball through 16 phases, Kings lost possession and a run across the field saw Jone Macilai extend the lead for the Crusaders in the 61st minute, with Volavola converting.
The Kings then took the ball back to the Saders half and this time were rewarded for their efforts with Chris Cloete crossing the whitewash for the Kings in the 66th minute, converted by Fouché.
Cloete was however sent off with a yellow card in the 75th minute, with the Crusaders just meters away from the Kings tryline.
Crusaders Pete Samu dotted down the last try of the game in the 79th minute, with a conversion by Volavola taking the final score to 57 – 24.
Crusaders – Tries: Nemani Nadolo (2), Johnny McNicholl, Ben Funnell, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Jone Macilai, Pete Samu. Conversions: Mo’unga (4), Ben Volavola (3). Penalty: Mo’unga.
Kings – Tries: Luzuko Vulindlu, Edgar Marutlulle, Chris Cloete. Conversions: Louis Fouché (3). Penalty: Fouche.