Update: 10:13PM THE Crusaders used their lineout drive to great effect on the way to consolidating second spot on the Super Rugby table with a 34-8 win over fellow play-off qualifiers the Highlanders.
The seven-time champions gave themselves the extra buffer of a bonus point from their four tries in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Three tries came after they turned down penalty shots at goals and opted to kick for the corner.
Flanker Matt Todd dotted down from each of the first two drives, and hooker Corey Flynn also got over with nine minutes to go for the all-important fourth five-pointer.
The result put the Crusaders five points above the third-placed Sharks, who are away to the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZT) in the last match of the final round.
The Sharks, the sole South African side to qualify for the finals, can still climb above the Crusaders, but they have to beat the Stormers by 35 points while also scoring four tries.
The top two sides in the six-team play-offs get next weekend off and if the Crusaders drop down to third, they will again host the Highlanders.
The two southern rivals went into the final round knowing they had both made it through to the play-offs.
The Highlanders, who ended a play-off drought going back to 2002, even had the outside chance of jumping four places and finishing second if things fell their way.
But it was the Crusaders who largely controlled the contest at AMI Stadium.
They ticked the scoreboard over early on with penalty goals before beginning their chase for the bonus point.
After Todd's brace of tries, a quick tap penalty resulted in winger Nemani Nadolo dotting down, and the Crusaders had notched up 17 points in eight minutes on either side of half-time to race to a 29-3 lead.
The Highlanders did hit back with a try to winger Richard Buckman, who showed great determination to force his way over through plenty of defence.
But Flynn's late effort ensured the Crusaders came away with maximum points.