The Queensland Reds have been taught a brutal Super Rugby lesson by the Crusaders, who cruised to a dominant 38-5 bonus-point victory on Friday night.
Winger Jone Macilai-Tori scored a hat-trick as the Crusaders booked a comfortable win – their eighth in a row – over the hard-working but hapless Reds at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
It was an honest effort from the rebuilding visitors, but it was met with a harsh reminder of just how far they have to go to match it with the competition’s top brass.
They largely dominated possession and territory, particularly in the first half – but without star centre Samu Kerevi (broken hand), the Wallaby-in-waiting who has emerged as their attacking spark this season – the Reds offered no real threat.
The Crusaders sat back, assuredly, choosing their moments and striking with venom when they did, and with five All Blacks on the bench, never looked in doubt.
Macilai-Tori had two tries inside the first seven minutes, both coming off Crusaders scrum wins and both converted by five-eighth Richie Mo’unga.
Then Scott Barrett burst through on 33 minutes, before Macilai-Tori wrapped up his third try just two minutes into the second stanza to give them a healthy 26-0 lead.
Queensland fired their first salvo a short time later, with a sublime chip from Jake McIntyre bouncing perfectly for steamrolling rookie Campbell Magnay, who outstripped a lead-footed Crusaders defence to touch down next to the posts.
Yet the conversion attempt was a disaster – as if to neatly sum up the Reds’ woes in experience and execution, McIntyre’s kick was charged down.
The Reds continued to toil and even eked out a man advantage when Crusaders skipper Kieran Read was sin-binned for repeated breakdown infringements.
But even when they were a player short, the hosts still managed to extend their advantage courtesy of Jordan Taufua in the 63rd minute, and then again through Codie Taylor from a lineout drive six minutes from fulltime.