A Crusaders first-half blitz has relegated the Waratahs to a 29-10 loss in Christchurch and kept the Australian Super Rugby conference race intriguing.
NSW conceded three first-half tries, including two in the first 10 minutes, as their Canterbury drought extended past 12 seasons.
Australia’s Super Rugby conference remains in a logjam because of the result, with the Waratahs just one point ahead of the Brumbies, who have a bye this weekend.
It took just three minutes for the Waratahs to find themselves on the back foot, after a try in the corner to Johnny McNicholl
McNicholl helped reinvigorated fullback Israel Dagg cross for the second in the ninth minute, after a pinpoint accurate cross-field kick from Richie Mo’unga.
The Waratahs were let off in the 13th minute, with a Crusaders try was disallowed.
It was Israel Folau who finally created some magic for the Waratahs, in the 26th minute, fooling the Crusaders defenders and slipping through a gap to set Rob Horne up for NSW’s first try.
Just as the Waratahs were starting to grind back some momentum, Mo’unga scored a third amid some TMO controversy to put the margin out to 17 points at the break.
The Waratahs competed hard in the second, but the Crusaders held the and Jordan Taufua put them in bonus point territory with a 60th minute try, the first of the final 40 minutes.
Former Crusaders winger Zac Guildford made his return to the Waratahs’ 23 felt immediately, scoring a scintillating try less than five minutes after coming off the bench.
NSW battled in the dying minutes to close the margin further but the Crusaders’ defence held tight.
Jed Holloway’s comeback was cut short, in the 55th minute, with the backrower coming off injured.
The Waratahs host the Chiefs next weekend as they battle to keep their conference advantage.
(Tries: McNicholl, Dagg, Mo’unga, Taufua Cons: Mo’unga Pens: Mo’unga )
(Tries:Horne, Guildford Cons: Pens: )