Crusaders win Super Rugby Aotearoa opener

Five All Blacks have scored tries for the Crusaders in an impressive 39-25 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington in their first match of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

RICHIE MO'UNGA.
RICHIE MO'UNGA. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

The Crusaders have returned to action with a 39-25 dissection of the Hurricanes which suggests they will be the team to beat in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Having sat out a bye in last week's opening round, the 10-time champion Crusaders had too much firepower out wide on Sunday in Wellington, with all five of their tries scored by All Blacks backs.

The Hurricanes' lone try went to hooker Asofa Aumua to level the scores going into the final quarter but the visitors regained control when Richie Mo'unga and David Havili crossed.

As was the case in round one, large crowds and high penalty counts dominated the two games, including the Blues' 24-12 defeat of the Chiefs on Saturday in a wet Hamilton.

That result leaves the Blues (2-0) atop the standings in the 10-week round-robin competition, followed by the Crusaders and Highlanders (both 1-0) while the fancied Chiefs and Hurricanes are languishing after successive defeats.

Composure from star signing Beauden Barrett and another enormous performance from rising No.8 Hoskins Sotutu have lifted the Blues to the status of genuine championship material.

The most modest Kiwi performers for most of the past decade set a franchise record by winning their fifth-successive game on the road.

However, they lack the pedigree of a Crusaders side who are showing few signs of three months without rugby.

Their opening try to All Blacks winger Sevu Reece was their best but they couldn't get to grips with the interpretations of referee Brendon Pickerill, who kept the home side in contention with regular whistle blowing.

All Blacks inside centre Jack Goodhue was sent to the sin-bin soon after halftime following repeated team offences, helping Hurricanes five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop to finish with 20 points from the boot.


AAP