Blues' Finlay Christie celebrates after scoring a try. Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO
Super Rugby

Blues hammer Brumbies to stay top, Crusaders pummel Waratahs

New Zealand clubs continue to dominate the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition.

THE AUCKLAND BLUES hammered the ACT Brumbies 38-10 to stay top of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman on Saturday while the Canterbury Crusaders inflicted a 54-28 defeat on the NSW Warriors.

With New Zealand clubs continuing to dominate the competition in round three, the unbeaten Blues are level with the Wellington Hurricanes, who flattened the Western Force 43-6 on Friday, with the Crusaders one point further back.

The Brumbies, who have emerged as the one Australian side capable of securing a win and who denied the Crusaders a vital bonus point, were leading 10-7 in the countdown to half-time when the Blues turned the game with 10 points in under two minutes.

A penalty by Otere Black levelled the scores and from the kick-off Rieko Ioane made the initial break before feeding Finlay Christie who beat five would-be defenders on a 35-metre run to the line.

“That was a huge moment in the game. It was a real tight tussle and that win gave us momentum,” Blues captain Tom Robinson said, adding he had always felt confident.

“I asked the boys to bring intensity and attitude and we brought it.”

With flanker Rob Valetini playing like a man possessed and Nic White keeping the ball ahead of his forwards, the Brumbies were not short of attacking opportunities in the opening stages.

But they let themselves down with multiple scrum penalties on the Blues’ put-in which allowed the home side to work their way downfield for Kurt Eklund to score from a line out drive.

The Brumbies’ first points came from a Noah Lolesio penalty and they took the lead with a converted try to Connal McInerney before the Blues wrested back control just before half-time.

The Blues added converted tries to Bryce Heem, AJ Lam and TJ Faiane in the second half.

- ‘Tahs losing streak continues -

A workmanlike Crusaders meanwhile scored eight tries as they inflicted an 11th straight defeat on the NSW Waratahs, exposing their defensive frailties.

New Zealand’s premier team started slowly, making uncharacteristic errors, before finding their groove at a windy Wollongong, south of Sydney.

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.

After Mitchell Drummond scored the opening try for the Crusaders, Will Harrison drilled two penalties to keep the home side in the hunt 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, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Bryn Hall and Will Jordan all scored for the Crusaders in the second half while the ‘Tahs produced tries to Jack Maddocks and Izaia Perese.

 © – AFP, 2021

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella join Gavan Casey to discuss their roles in the rugby media, the concept of ‘bias’, punditry preferences, the art of co-commentary, new-age online analysts and much more

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