Waratahs loss makes it a clean sweep for Kiwis
THE Waratahs had the chance to go top of the Australian conference, but instead missed 47 tackles in a lacklustre effort against the clinical Crusaders as Australian rugby sunk to further depths against Kiwi rivals.
No Australian side has beaten a New Zealand team after six rounds of Super Rugby, with NSW becoming the 10th victim after the competition leaders scored a 41-22 bonus point win in Sydney.
NSW's defence was abominable, with basic one-on-one missed tackles allowing the Crusaders to make eight line breaks and 848 run metres while scoring six tries to three.
A barnstorming try from 125kg Tahs winger Taqele Naiyaravoro brought the impatient Allianz Stadium crowd to its feet and the Tahs to within four points early in the second half.
After Tim Bateman had crossed for his second try two minutes after the resumption and the Crusaders led 26-12, it appeared the visitors would run away with the game.
But NSW halfback Jake Gordon scored a wonderful set-play try, taking a short ball from debutant five-eighth Mack Mason after running around from a lineout. Gordon raced 25 metres to score his second Super Rugby try in his third game.
Three minutes later Naiyaravoro produced a highlight reel special when he barged through Crusaders winger George Bridge as a wildebeest would a hyena.
Bridge was still airborne as Naiyaravoro fought through Jordan Taufua's tackle before touching down.
At 26-22 the game's momentum appeared to be swinging towards another Waratahs comeback victory but continued errors crippled NSW's hopes.
Mitch Hunt added a penalty goal for the Crusaders to put them 29-22 ahead with 20 minutes to play.
The Tahs had plenty of opportunities to hit back but poor handling, lineout throwing and tackling ensured they would not get any closer.
Replacement Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall scored a brilliant try that started in their own quarter. Winger Manase Mataele beat three tacklers in a sizzling run before passing to prop Wyatt Crockett who flicked it inside to the diving Hall.
Ben Funnell completed the rout, barging over from close range to score the Crusaders' sixth and take them past 40 points.
After an even opening 10 minutes, the Crusaders scored two tries in the next three minutes to go 12-0 ahead.
Bridge crossed first before fullback David Havili ran through lax defence from a scrum in the 13th minute.
The Tahs scored their first 10 minutes later when skipper Michael Hooper dived over from close range after opting to take an attacking scrum instead of an easy kick at goal.
NSW is now 2-4 to start the season and have a short turnaround, facing the defending champion Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday.
The Hurricanes have the best attack in the tournament.
NSW's defensive planners have some long hours ahead.