The BNZ Crusaders have celebrated Wyatt Crockett’s record breaking 176th Investec Super Rugby appearance in style with a bonus point 50-3 win over the Sunwolves in Christchurch.

Despite quiet opening and closing quarters, the BNZ Crusaders scored eight tries in the middle stages to shut out the Sunwolves in their first appearance on New Zealand soil.

Coming off the bye, it took the BNZ Crusaders a while to get into the groove as the Sunwolves showed great energy on defence and even repelled a Crusaders drive close to the line to gain some early confidence. 

With the Sunwolves flat defence nullifying any attacking threats out wide, the BNZ Crusaders kept the ball close and wore down the Sunwolves defence in the tight exchanges. After 13 minutes of score-less play, the Crusaders penetrated the line when Kieran Read crashed over to make the perfect return to Super Rugby. Moments later, it was hooker Ben Funnell who benefited from the relentless forward running when he grabbed his fourth try in 2017 to make it 14-0.

If the Sunwolves expected any respite when the BNZ Crusaders were reduced to 14-men due to a dangerous Seta Tamanivalu tackle, it wasn’t forthcoming as the BNZ Crusaders showed their class outwide with two tries to wing Manasa Matele. 

The Sunwolves energy quickly dissipated as they resorted to kicking the ball back to the BNZ Crusaders instead of preserving with the running game that worked for them against the Bulls last week.

A third try to Mataele completed the first half rout at 29-3 after a slow opening 15 minutes for the BNZ Crusaders.

The BNZ Crusaders made a raft of changes in the second half with Wyatt Crockett coming off to a huge applause to acknowledge his record-breaking 176th Super Rugby appearance. Tasman debutants Quinten Strange (lock) and Andrew Makalio (hooker) slotted in well as the Crusaders picked up where they left off in the first half with a try to Pete Samu. 

The Sunwolves flat defence worked against them when Richie Mo’unga chipped a perfectly weighted kick into the arms of replacement wing George Bridge to score.

Whetu Douglas has filled Kieran Read’s shoes brilliantly this season and continued his impressive debut season with a try from the bench to complete the 50-3 victory for the Crusaders.

BNZ Crusaders Captain Sam Whitelock said: “After the bye we were a little bit rusty but the beauty is we got the win and maximum points which is the main thing.”

The win is the Crusaders seventh victory from seven matches and leaves them on top of the NZ Conference with 31 points.

Scorers:

Crusaders 50 (Kieran Read, Ben Funnell, Manasa Mataele 3, Pete Samu, George Bridge, Whetu Douglas tries, Richie Mo’unga 3 con, Marty McKenzie 2 con)

Sunwolves 3 (Tamura pen)   HT: 29-3