Crusaders coach Scott Robertson's celebrations have been understandably muted, after his team's straightforward win over the Waratahs at Christchurch.

The defending champions were scarcely troubled at AMI Stadium, running in six tries to three to bank another bonus point in a 42-18 win and consolidate second place in the Super Rugby Pacific standings.

Injuries to two key players - All Blacks midfielder David Havili and No.8 Cullen Grace - ensured a more sombre tone than you'd typically see at a post-win Robertson presser, as the Crusaders injury crisis threatens to deepen just two weeks out from the playoffs.

"It does put a damper on things," said Robertson.

Both players will need to undergo scans to determine the severity of their injuries, but initial assessments don't seem encouraging. Havili was clearly in pain, as he was assisted from the field and has already missed four games this season, after injuring his shoulder in the upset loss to Fijian Drua in early March.

Grace looked in decidedly more discomfort than his teammate, needing the help of two medical staff to slowly make his way off the field and down the tunnel.

At one stage this season, the Crusaders had 17 players on their injury list. Last week, the absence of three All Blacks props forced them to send an SOS to World Cup-winning All Black John Afoa, who hadn't played Super Rugby since 2011.

Just three days after his return flight from France, the 39-year-old was injected immediately into the starting line-up against the Aussies and acquitted himself well over his 50-odd minutes on the pitch.

"That's special, isn't it?" Robertson said of Afoa's effort. "He didn't hesitate, when we contacted him."

Fortunately for the Crusaders, their depth of talent at almost every position means they're better equipped than most to deal with such injuries, with All Black Jack Goodhue and rising talent Dallas McLeod primed to fill in for Havili.

Braydon Ennor's late scratching was more of a precautionary measure. His foot injury isn't expected to sideline him long, meaning he should also be available to fill any void.

All Blacks loose forward Ethan Blackadder should also be available for their final regular season match against the Hurricanes next weekend, when a win would cement their second-place finish for the knockout stages.

Christian Lio-Willie left the field early, but only due to severe cramps,  and the loose forward was one of the players who came in for special mention from his coach.

Assessing his team's overall performance, Robertson - in light of the injuries - was a tad indifferent, ruing a disjointed second-half display.

"We couldn't quite get our rhythm," said Robertson. "We had a lot of opportunities and the last pass didn't go our way, then you top that off with a couple of injuries and it's tough. 

"It's hard to say it's a good win, when you've got injuries, but you definitely take it and hopefully the boys are only a couple of weeks out."

2023-05-27T22:32:28Z dg43tfdfdgfd