Crusaders rout hapless Sunwolves
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Crusaders put eight tries past the hapless Sunwolves to beat the men from Japan 50-3 in a wet Christchurch on Good Friday.
The Crusaders were simply TOO GOOD for the visitors, who found it tough to get into the game in testing conditions.
However, it was more the efficiency of the Crusaders and the professional application of the laws by the referee, rather than the after-effects of cyclone Cook that caused the downfall of the Sunwolves.
The Crusaders completely dominated possession and territory, as they shut down a team that had relied on the leniency of match officials all season to keep them in games.
This time it went horribly wrong.
Manasa Mataele bagged a hat-trick of tries to help ensure the Crusaders reclaim first place on the global table from the Stormers - who held it on points differential for the past week.
The overwhelming scoreline also kept the Crusaders unbeaten after seven matches.
The hapless Sunwolves have only tasted victory once this year to go with their sole win in their maiden season last year.
In their first ever match in New Zealand, the Sunwolves were competitive for the first 20 minutes and managed to snuff out a Crusaders line-out drive.
But when Crusaders right wing Seta Tamanivalu was yellow-carded in the 25th minute for a dangerous tackle, his nephew Mataele sprang into action on the left wing and it was all Crusaders from there.
Mataele ran in three quick tries as the Crusaders jumped from 14-3 ahead to lead 29-3 at half-time.
They piled on a further three tries in the second half before losing their finishing edge when the lop-sided affair was used to blood junior members of their squad for the final quarter.
Despite the commanding win, Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock felt his side had lost a little accuracy after having a bye last week.
"We were a little bit rusty but the beauty is we got the win, which is the main thing, and got maximum points as well," he said.
"We were good in parts but we didn't really finish that well. We had a couple of guys out there for their first run so they'll be bursting with that feeling and that excitement."
It was a sharp return to earth for the Japanese who celebrated their first win of the season last week when they came from behind to beat the Bulls 21-20.
They were monstered by a Crusaders pack bolstered by the return of All Black skipper Kieran Read who scored the first try of the match when the Crusaders used their superior power to drive him over the line.
Hooker Ben Funnell scored the second try, also from a forward drive, before Mataele brought the pace and dexterity of the Crusaders backline into action.
He scored two tries down the left side and a third on the right as the match statistics highlighted a clear difference in class.
The Crusaders made 550 metres to 154, while the Sunwolves were forced to make 127 tackles to 59.
Pete Samu, George Bridge and Whetu Douglas scored further tries for the Crusaders in the first 20 minutes of the second half to bring up their 50 points.
Life gets tougher for the Crusaders next week when they host the Stormers, while the Sunwolves head to Invercargill to play the Highlanders.
Man of the match: You can look at a host - or almost all - of the Crusaders players. Men like David Havili, Manasa Mataele, Kieran Read (in his first game back from wrist surgery), Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano and Ben Funnell were all very impressive. However, our award goes to Australian referee Nic Berry - the first match official this season to penalise the Sunwolves for their persistent illegal tactics - collapsing scrums, props standing on their knees, the hooker advancing his foot illegally before the ball is in, skew throws at the line-outs, offside, hands in at every ruck, obstructive running, etc.
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Reid, Funnell, Mataele 3, Samu, Bridge, Douglas
Cons: Mo'unga 3, McKenzie 2
For the Sunwolves:
Yellow card: Seta Tamanivalu (Crusaders, 25 - foul play, taking out a player in the air)
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Whetu Douglas, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 George Bridge.
Sunwolves: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Teruya Goto, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Edward Quirk, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Heiichiro Ito, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Yuhimaru Mimura, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 William Tupou, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand