Crusaders stroll to winning start as Sunwolves shock Rebels

By Sports Desk February 01, 2020

The Crusaders commenced their Super Rugby title defence with a convincing victory over the Waratahs, while the Sunwolves stunned the Rebels on Saturday.

Crowned champions back in July, the Crusaders looked every bit the team to beat in a dominant 43-25 triumph in their opening outing at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.

Will Jordan crossed in the 16th minute before Braydon Ennor and Leicester Fainga'anuku ran in tries to establish a 24-6 half-time advantage for the hosts.

Teenage debutant Mark Nawaqanitawase scored a quickfire double - the second from an intercept - to give the Waratahs fleeting thoughts of a second-half fightback, but Ennor, Jordan and Luke Romano touched down to extinguish those hopes.

Alex Newsome crossed for a late consolation to give the Waratahs another minor boost in their first fixture since Rob Simmons replaced Michael Hooper as captain.

The Sunwolves began their Super Rugby swansong in style by claiming a surprise 36-27 win over the Rebels.

Due to be culled from the competition at the end of the campaign, the Japanese outfit proved they will not limp to the finish line thanks in large part to a blistering start in Fukuoka.

Early tries from Keisuke Moriya and Jaba Bregvadze laid the foundation for the Sunwolves, winners just twice last season, to record their maiden victory over the Rebels.

Anaru Rangi and Dane Haylett-Petty touched down either side of Tautalatasi Tasi to trim the margin to 22-13 at half-time, only for James Dargaville and Garth April to respond with fine tries that put the hosts in a commanding position.

Andrew Kellaway and Andrew Deegan went over in the closing stages to add some respectability to the scoreline but the Rebels failed to ease the pressure on head coach Dave Wessels, who recently admitted he considered quitting last season.

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