The Crusaders completed a routine 45-6 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday, rarely breaking a sweat in a disjointed performance.
Despite the scrappy display, the home side had the bonus point wrapped up by half-time against opposition that simply needs to get home and regroup as quickly as possible from a tour that has been sent straight from hell.
The Cheetahs have thus far faced a Waratahs team just beginning to cut loose, a Brumbies team deseprate for tries and a Crusaders team hell-bent on bonus points to get a home semi-final. Next week they go to the Chiefs, whose semi-final hopes disappeared yesterday, so they might get some respite, but they look a shell-shocked bunch at the moment.
Their hosts looked disinterested at times, certainly they were in no mood to do the harder yards more than absolutely necessary. But tries didn't just come and for a time, the Cheetahs were in with a shout of frustrating the Crusaders into conceding a little too much.
It was Thomas Waldrom's brace of powerful tries just before the break that ultimately crushed the Cheetahs' resolve as far as finding a result went.
Kahn Fotuali'i opened the scoring after an opening ten minutes in which there was a fair bit of kicking, a few spilled passes and very little else. Fotuali'i went on a curving run from the back of a ruck, curving through a gap, round the covering defence and all the way over to the left-hand corner.
Riaan Viljoen answered with a penalty and that was the way the game stayed, meandering back and forth until Ryan Crotty sliced through the Cheetahs' backs for the second.
Colin Slade converted that one and followed suit when Waldrom crashed over off the back of a driven maul, repeating his converting trick once again on half-time as the Crusaders drove a scrum over the Cheetahs line and Waldrom pounced for his second and his team's fourth.
In between, Viljoen had given the Cheetahs one more flicker of hope with a penalty, moments before hobbling off injured. The pushover try killed off those hopes completely.
Spirited defence and the Crusaders' occasionally lackadaisical play kept the floodgates shut in the second half, with many an opportunity for the hosts going awry for the want of looking for an offload.
Sean Maitland eventually scored the fifth after a neat passing movement down the left and then Ben Franks was driven over from 5m out.
Zac Guildford came off the bench for a scoring cameo, taking a pass from Slade and coming off his wing to do so and go under the posts.
Man of the match: Sentimental? Soft? Indulgent? Maybe, but we felt the best effort and hardest work from either side came from Cheetahs scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, with at least two match-saving tackles and more than a couple of attacking sparks. He seemed to know which way he wanted the ball to go in attack, a virtue not always apparent in his colleagues.
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Fotuali'i, Crotty, Waldrom 2, Maitland, B.Franks, Guildford
Cons: Slade 5
For the Cheetahs:
Pens: Viljoen 2
Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Jared Payne, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Daniel Bowden, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Daniel Perrin, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Brad Thorn, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Andy Ellis/Willi Heinz, 21 Tu Umaga-Marshall, 22 Zac Guildford.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Barend Pieterse, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Izak van der Westhuizen, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements:16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Philip van der Walt, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Robert Ebersohn.
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)