A workmanlike Canterbury Crusaders inflicted an 11th straight defeat on the NSW Waratahs Saturday, exposing their defensive frailties to crush them 54-28.
New Zealand’s premier team started slowly, making uncharacteristic errors, before finding their groove at a windy Wollongong, south of Sydney, running in eight tries to three.
The result leaves them with three wins from three in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, while the ‘Tahs have yet to get off the mark, extending their club record run of defeats to 11.
Only once in the history of Super Rugby has an Australian team suffered a worse streak — when the Melbourne Rebels lost 12 on the trot in 2011-12.
“We were a little bit loose there at times, trying to chase points and tries,” Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said of their less-than clinical performance. “We gave a lot of ball away in the first-half especially, so plenty of stuff for us to work on.”
The ‘Tahs have leaked 166 points in their last three games and skipper Jake Gordon admitted it wasn’t good enough.
“Throughout the year we have looked good in patches but we have trouble replicating that for 80 minutes,” he said. “We can obviously score points, we just need to limit the amount against us.”
They started well but it was scrum-half Mitchell Drummond who opened the scoring for the visitors on eight minutes after a linebreak from Sevu Reece, with Richie Mo’unga adding the extras.
Will Harrison drilled two penalties to keep the home side in the hunt and they held the Crusaders at bay until the 29th minute when Codie Taylor crossed after a scintillating 80-metre counter-attack.
It opened the floodgates with Reece and Dallas McLeod also bagging tries to give them a 26-9 lead at the break.
Barrett scored the Crusaders’ fifth a minute after the restart following another slick counter-attack.
The ‘Tahs, though, refused to go away and two quick-fire tries from Jack Maddocks and Izaia Perese gave them a glimmer of hope.
But five-pointers from Leicester Fainga’anuku, Bryn Hall and Will Jordan restored order as the Crusaders completed a routine win.