WOLLONGONG, Australia (AP) — The New Zealand-champion Crusaders outclassed Australian strugglers the New South Wales Waratahs 54-28 in the trans-Tasman Super Rugby tournament on Saturday.
It was the 12th consecutive win by New Zealand sides over their Australian counterparts through the first 2 1-2 rounds of the tournament.
The Christchurch-based Crusaders were expected to win handsomely and did so, by eight tries to three, against the Waratahs who finished last in the Australian domestic Super Rugby competition.
But the 13-time Super Rugby champions had to work hard at times against the plucky Waratahs, who were only a point behind — 7-6 — after 30 minutes.
The Crusaders scored four tries in a 12-minute period on either side of halftime to take the match away from the Waratahs, who still made the contest interesting with two tries in the space of two minutes in the middle of the second half.
Those tries cut the Crusaders’ margin to 10 points — 33-23. But the gap widened again when the Crusaders added three more tries through powerful center Leicester Fainga’anuku, replacement scrumhalf Bryn Hall and fullback Will Jordan.
The Crusaders strength as always was their ability as a team to snap into attacking mode as soon as a break, even a half-break, was made.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, who scored 31 points in last weekend’s win over the Queensland Reds, had 14 points Saturday from six conversions, surpassing 50 points in the Australia-New Zealand competition. He was also the instigator of many attacks, stretching or breaking the defensive line
Teammates would quickly line up in support, an area in which Fainga’anuku, wingers Sevu Reece and Manasa Mataele, Jordan and hooker Codie Taylor were especially prominent. Taylor finished an 80 meter breakout try in the 30th minute which was probably the best of the match.
Taylor’s try was followed by others to Reece and center Dallas McLeod before halftime when the Crusaders led 26-9. The Crusaders then came out of the blocks fast after the break with a try in the 42nd minute to captain Scott Barrett.
Barrett said he was happy with the way his team attacked, even from deep in their own half.
“But it probably got a bit loose there at times, trying to chase points and tries for this competition,” he said. “We saw what the Waratahs could do. They’ve got a bit of flair and put a few points on us which is a little bit disappointing.”
The Waratahs seemed obsessed in the first half with kicking penalties to stay in touch with the Crusaders.
Trailing 33-9, that tactic became redundant and they became more adventurous, scoring tries in the 52nd and 54th minute through winger Jack Maddocks and center Izaia Perese.
The Crusaders were reduced to 13 men with two yellow cards in the last few minutes and the Waratahs capitalized, scoring the last try of the match through Alex Newsome.
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