The Brumbies, Crusaders and Reds kept their unbeaten Super Rugby Pacific records intact at the weekend but competition newcomers Fijian Drua slumped to another heavy defeat.
After round two of the southern hemisphere tournament, the Brumbies and Crusaders jointly top the 12-team table with two wins and a bonus point each. Drua, the Highlanders and Rebels are yet to get off the mark.
The Canberra-based Brumbies came storming out of the blocks against the Fijians, scoring three tries in the opening 25 minutes to wrap up the game before their opponents settled.
They ultimately dotted down seven times, with substitute winger Jesse Mogg scoring two late tries, for a 42-3 win and another brutal wake-up call for a side that has leaked 82 points and scored just 13.
Despite the scoreline, Drua’s scrum showed promise and they spent most of the second half on the attack, only to be repelled by the home team’s rock-solid defending.
“We tried to prepare ourselves to respect the ball a little bit in play, and we just got stuck between wanting to play and respecting the ball,” said Drua coach Mick Byrne.
“It’s always good to get some points on the board. Having said that, the spirit for our players to play and to get up and go again is there for everyone to see.”
Fellow newcomers Moana Pasifika’s long-awaited debut was postponed for a second time because of players testing postive for coronavirus.
Revised dates for their clashes with the Blues and Chiefs have not been set but New Zealand Rugby said it was committed to staging them.
The 12-time champion Crusaders also stayed unbeaten with All Blacks winger Sevu Reece scoring two first-half tries as they beat the Highlanders 34-19 in Dunedin.
But it was a frenetic game and they only held a one-point advantage with 14 minutes left before Will Jordan’s agility and strength earned them a third try and Tamaiti Williams got a fourth as the clock ticked down.
An injury-ravaged Reds also hung on for a 20-16 win over the Waratahs in torrential rain in Sydney, despite losing Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou before kick-off and captain Tate McDermott and Angus Scott-Young during the match.
The Waratahs dominated territory and possession, but the Reds made it count on the attack with Jordan Petaia and Ryan Smith crossing and James O’Connor scoring 10 with the boot.
Elsewhere, captain Ardie Savea scored a sensational match-winning try in the final minute to lead the Hurricanes to a thrilling 33-32 victory over the Blues in Dunedin.
The Hurricanes trailed 32-14 with 10 minutes left but came storming home with three late tries to book their first win of the season after an opening-round loss to the Crusaders.
“I’m lost for words,” Savea said. “I’m just proud of the boys. We had about eight minutes to go and we were down by 10 or 12 and the messages just were to do our next job and do it with intent.”
But there was nothing to cheer about in Melbourne with the Rebels, under new coach Kevin Foote, crashing to their second heavy defeat despite a team boasting the likes of Wallabies veterans Reece Hodge and Matt To’omua.
After losing 23-5 to the Reds last week, they slumped 28-3 to the Western Force with their stuttering attack failing to fire.
“We’re sorry for that and we’re trying to be better,” Rebels captain Michael Wells said.
© Agence France-Presse