The Super Rugby season was thrown into doubt by the New Zealand government’s directive on the coronavirus pandemic, which came as the Reds claimed a 41-17 bonus-point victory over the Bulls in Brisbane.
A directive for any travellers returning to New Zealand to self-isolate for 14 days has made it unlikely that the Bulls can continue their tour, with scheduled games against the Waratahs, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs now unlikely to take place.
At Suncorp Stadium, the Bulls raced into a 17-0 lead as Rosko Specman’s devastating wing play inspired three superb tries, but the hosts rediscovered their rhythm as Liam Wright and Isaac Lucas went over to make it 17-14 at the interval.
The second half was all Reds, with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto scoring in the corner one minute after the restart, before Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert and Taniela Tupou ensured the hosts finished with six tries.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) March 14, 2020
Crusaders hooker Hugh Roach was sent-off on his debut but his side marched on to claim a 49-14 victory over the Sunwolves in Brisbane that put them top of the Super Rugby table.
Roach received his marching orders after he elbowed Sunwolves prop Hencus van Wyk in the head with Crusaders leading 35-14, thanks to two earlier tries from Sevu Reece, along with scores from Tom Christie, Luke Romano and Sione Havili.
After Roach’s dismissal, Reece was yellow carded for a professional foul, but the visitors kept the pressure on and scored further tries through Braydon Ennor and Fergus Burke to claim an impressive win.
Victory came easier for Blues, who brushed aside the Lions in a 43-10 win at Eden Park.
Leon MacDonald’s men are in fine form and claimed their fourth straight win, with Rieko Ioane scoring a double as Stephen Perofeta, Gerard Crowley-Tuioti and Hoskins Sotutu also contributed tries.
A run of five wins in six games has seen the Blues surge into contention to reach the play-offs for the first time in nearly a decade.