The Crusaders made light work of the Kings in their Super Rugby clash, claiming a 57-24 bonus-point win in Christchurch on Saturday.
As expected, the Crusaders dominated for large periods and they outscored the Kings eight tries to three with Richie Mo’unga leading the way with a 16-point haul via a try, four conversions and a penalty.
The win moves the seven-time champions into joint second place on the New Zealand Conference table, alongside the Chiefs and the Hurricanes. The Wellington-based franchise have already played four matches compared to the Chiefs and Crusaders’ three, although the Chiefs will take on the Jaguares in Buenos Aires later on Saturday.
The Kings’ loss – their third from three matches – leaves them in a precarious position at the foot of the African Conference Two table and just like their previous matches they were outclassed in all departments.
They are yet to register any points in the standings and will have to show considerable improvement if they want to change that statistic in their next match against the Hurricanes in Wellington next weekend.
The men from Port Elizabeth had the better of the opening exchanges and, after Louis Fouche slotted an early penalty, the home crowd were stunned into silence in the 12th minute when Luzuko Vulindlu intercepted a wayward Wyatt Crockett pass on the halfway line before racing away to score the opening try.
Fouche added the extras but it was one-way traffic in the opposite direction until the half-time break.
The Crusaders struck back, two minutes later, when Nemani Nadolo dotted down after Jimmy Tupou did well to draw in two defenders before offloading to the big Fijian, who strolled over untouched.
The hosts’ dominance continued and Nadolo, Johnny McNicholl and Ben Funnell crossed for further five-pointers which meant they led 29-10 at the break.
The Crusaders continued where they left off after the break and were soon rewarded when Mo’unga and Mitchell Drummond crossed for tries in quick succession shortly after the restart.
The Kings were under the cosh but didn’t surrender and narrowed the gap in the 51st minute when Edgar Marutlulle burst through a couple of tackles before crashing over for their second try.
Despite being outclassed, the visitors battled on but, as they upped the ante on attack, further holes appeared in their defence.
Jone Macilai-Tori got over for the home side’s seventh try, after finding himself in the clear inside the Kings’ half, and although Chris Cloete scored a consolation try for the visitors in the 65th minute, he was yellow-carded 10 minutes later for a professional foul close to his try-line which added to his side’s woes.
The Crusaders made full use of their numerical advantage and sealed their win when Pete Samu scored their final try shortly before full-time.
Tries: Nadolo 2, McNicholl, Funnell, Mo’unga, Drummond, Macilai-Tori, Samu
Cons: Mo’unga 4, Volavola 3
Tries: Vulindlu, Marutlulle, Cloete
Cons: Fouche 3
Yellow card: Cloete
Crusaders: 15 Ben Volavola, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Jone Macilai-Tori
Kings: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 JP Du Plessis
Referee: William Houston
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Angus Mabey
TMO: Chris Wratt