Super Rugby: Dark days continue for Australian teams

The Reds were thumped by the Sunwolves, the Waratahs suffered a horrendous choke against the Crusaders, and the Rebels and Brumbies played in front of a tiny crowd in Canberra in another dire day for Australia in the Super Rugby.

The NSW Waratahs were crying foul after giving up the biggest lead in Super Rugby history in a heartbreaking 31-29 loss to the mighty Crusaders.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson, himself a multiple championship winner with New Zealand’s powerhouse franchise, was full of praise on Saturday night for the Crusaders after they overhauled a 29-0 first-half deficit.

But he rued no action being taken against Crusaders prop Joe Moody for taking out Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale in the lead-up to the home team’s first try in the 35th minute.

“That’s an elbow to the throat of a player unprotected. It’s a red-card offence. The try should not be scored. The guy should not be on the field,” former Wallaby-turned-Fox Sports analyst Rod Kafer said in commentary.

Gibson was unable to hide his frustration after the Waratahs had to settle for a losing bonus point to retain their Australian conference lead.

“A couple of decisions proved really costly — obviously the Joe Moody incident with the elbow, which the referees missed,” he said.

“In my book, it’s an elbow to the head so I’m sure the powers that be are looking at that.”

‘We need to start cheating better’: Former Wallaby

Former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles said he was growing tired of Australia’s Kiwi rivals pushing the limits of the law.

“The reality is, we’ve got to start cheating better,” Hoiles said on the Fox Sports coverage of the Waratahs-Crusaders game.

“That’s what we as Aussies need to do. We need to start running players off the ball.

“We have to be a little bit craftier off the ball. That’s what Australian rugby needs to do.

“We can’t let the referee make all these decisions.”

Reds hit new low

Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn says his side “got what they deserved”, with the pumped-up Sunwolves claiming their first Super Rugby match win of the season with a 63-28 hammering in Tokyo.

Kiwi-born five-eighth Hayden Parker did much of the damage for the Sunwolves at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium with a personal tally of 36 points.

He finished off a brilliant first-half team try and kicked 12 goals from 12 attempts, while Sunwolves winger Hosea Saumaki also had a day out, collecting a hat-trick of tries.

While the Sunwolves deserved the win, the Reds did themselves no favours.

Through lazy play, they conceded 12 penalties to hand their opponents 21 points, their attack lacked creativity, defence was lacklustre and their kicking game was below par as well.

Thorn said his team was simply beaten by the better team on the day.

“There was lot of poor, basic footy out there and we got what we deserved,” Thorn said.

“Hats off to Hayden Parker who scored 30-odd points; the forwards were good; they were really good at the breakdown so well done to them,” Thorn said.

“They were by far the better side.”

Second-worst crowd ever turns out for Brumbies-Rebels game

Those Super Rugby woes are extending off the field with the Brumbies playing in front of their second-smallest crowd for a home game.

Just 5,283 supporters turned out at Bruce Stadium on Saturday night for the ACT team’s clash with rivals Melbourne.

PHOTO: The crowd in Canberra was the Brumbies’ second-worst ever in Super Rugby. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)

That figure sits only behind an attendance of 4,000 back in 1999 when the Brumbies smashed the South African-based Bulls.

Staring down the barrel of a sixth-straight defeat, the Rebels overcame a 14-point deficit with 20 minutes remaining to bury the Brumbies 27-24.

A Rugby League World Cup match between France and Lebanon attracted more fans (5,492) at the same venue last October.

While it was a cold Canberra night against the Rebels, the turnout for a conference derby is of concern to the Brumbies and Rugby Australia.

It adds to the frustration of Australian teams losing 39 straight games against New Zealand opposition, with the second anniversary of the last win fast approaching.

“It’s really sad to be honest, as a rugby union person,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.

“It was obviously a cold, damp evening. Everyone in this room and here tonight wants the game to be thriving. The reality is at the moment it isn’t.

“Our form is playing a part of that and I’ve got to front up and take ownership of that 100 per cent.”

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