CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 12: Matt Todd of the Crusaders dives over to score a try during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Highlanders at AMI Stadium on July 12, 2014 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

Christchurch - Flanker Matt Todd's two tries highlighted a superior forward performance by the Canterbury Crusaders as they hammered the Otago Highlanders 34-8 on Saturday to all but clinch second place and a bye into the Super Rugby semi-finals in two weeks.

The Crusaders finished on 51 points with the bonus-point victory and have a points differential of +123. The third-placed Sharks (46) will need to beat the Stormers by 35 points and score four tries later in Cape Town to overtake them in second.

The Crusaders dominated the game after the first quarter with their scrum demolishing the Highlanders, whose points came from a Hayden Parker penalty and Richard Buckman try, though they had already assured a playoff spot before the game.

Dan Carter slotted four first half penalties for the home side, who broke open the game when Todd crashed over for tries following attacking lineouts either side of halftime, before Nemani Nadolo and Corey Flynn, from another attacking lineout, crossed to cement the bonus point. - Reuters