AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Australia’s Super Rugby teams were once again embarrassed by their New Zealand opponents on the weekend, culminating with the Christchurch-based Crusaders' 63-28 win over the Queensland Reds.
In two rounds of the trans-Tasman competition, Kiwi sides have won all 10 matches with combined scores of 416 points scored and 214 against and an average victory margin of 20 points.
Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the Reds, who were 8-1 through the earlier domestic competition including the Australian title, had been toyed with by what he says is the world’s best provincial side, the Crusaders.
“We had a saying in the old days, ‘welcome to first grade’, and it was first grade tonight. They were top quality,” Cheika said. “They play like a piano accordion; they spread you out, then tighten you up, then spread and tighten you up again."
Earlier, winger Bryce Heem scored three tries for the Auckland-based Blues in their 48-21 win over the New South Wales Waratahs. The Blues took a bonus point from a win by seven tries to three.
The Hamilton-based Chiefs beat the ACT Brumbies 40-19. Luke Jacobson scored two first-half tries off the back of a dominant scrum to set the Chiefs on the road to their second straight win in the competition.
Slick second-half tries to backs Damian McKenzie, Alex Nankivell and Anton Lienert-Brown drove home the Chiefs' advantage over the Brumbies, who started with Len Ikitau's try but then lacked the possession and field position to threaten the home side.
The Blues also started strongly in their win over the Waratahs.
After opening an early 15-0 lead with Heem’s first try and another to captain Tom Robinson, created by Heem, the Blues seemed to be cantering to victory. But their concentration and defensive intensity flagged and the Waratahs hit back with tries to prop Angus Bell and scrumhalf Jake Gordon to reduce the lead to 15-14.
Hooker Kurt Eklund scored from a lineout drive to expand the Blues’ lead to 22-14 at halftime and they finished strongly in the second half against a waning Waratahs team which slumped to a club-record 10th straight loss.
“We came out and had a good start but then fell into the trap you can have when you make a good start,” Robinson said. “They came back and we were into a bit of a dogfight. We looked for a better attitude and the boys brought it in the second half.”
The Blues had dangerous players out wide in Heem, a former New Zealand sevens player who recently has played in Britain and France, and All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane. But poorly constructed attacks too often broke down before the ball could reach those players.
Heem scored his first try after only eight minutes when he received the ball out wide and stepped through several tackles close to the line. He added another in the 67th minute and completed his hat trick with an intercept just before fulltime.
On Friday, former All Blacks winger Julian Savea scored a try in each half as the Wellington-based Hurricanes beat the Melbourne Rebels 35-13 and the Highlanders beat the Western Force 25-15.
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