The Christchurch-based Crusaders revived their Super Rugby playoffs chances with a 58-17, eight-try win over the Queensland Reds on Friday.
The Crusaders took a slender 15-10 lead to halftime but ran in six second-half tries, including winger Nemani Nadolo's double, to take a bonus point and rise inside the top-six playoffs zone at the start of the 13th round.
The match was a farewell to All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and star flyhalf Daniel Carter, who likely played their last Super Rugby matches for the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Carter is likely to end his 13-season association with the Crusaders after the Rugby World Cup when he joins French club Racing Metro. McCaw has played for the Crusaders for 15 seasons and, while he has yet to make his intentions clear, is likely to retire after the world tournament in October.
The impending departures of Carter and McCaw made Friday's match emotionally significant for the Crusaders, who are unlikely to play again in Christchurch this season. Their only other home match will be at their secondary home ground at Nelson and, while they improved their playoffs chances with Friday's win, their chances of hosting a home playoff are slim.
"(The emotional elements) were likely on the back-burner in terms of what we were trying to focus on this week, and in the competition," Crusaders captain Kieran Read said. "We needed to come out and get the win.
"In saying that, these guys have done an awful lot for this team and it showed with the crowd getting in behind us. Tonight, we made hay when the sun shone in the second half and put them away, which is great."
Carter is the world's leading point-scorer in tests but has been forced to concede his regular position at flyhalf for the Crusaders to his All Blacks teammate Colin Slade, starting instead at inside center.
Slade outshone Carter, creating a try for scrumhalf Andy Ellis, and scoring himself to give the Crusaders their narrow first-half lead. He also kicked six conversions and two penalties for 23 points.
McCaw took the field from the bench as a second-half replacement. By the time he joined the game the Crusaders were overwhelmingly in control.
They tore apart the Reds' defense in the second half, seizing control with tries to Nadolo in the first and 12th minutes of the half. All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock then dashed 60 meters through paper-thin defense to put the Crusaders on course to a landslide win.
The seven-time champions have a bye next week before facing a difficult end to the regular season with matches against the top-ranked Hurricanes and defending champion New South Wales Waratahs.