Christchurch, New Zealand (AP) — Winger Manasa Mataele scored three tries while his uncle and teammate Seta Tamanivalu languished in the sin-bin as the Crusaders beat Japan’s Sunwolves 50-3 Friday to remain unbeaten after seven Super Rugby matches.
All Blacks center Tamanivalu was sin-binned in the 29th minute for a dangerous tackle on Sunwolves fullback Kotaro Matsushima, but his 20-year-old nephew Mataele compensated for his loss by scoring three tries in nine minutes to give the Crusaders a 29-3 lead at halftime.
Fiji-born Mataele scored in the 29th, 32nd and 38th minutes — twice on the left wing and once on the right — as the Crusaders overcame a rain-sodden field to score five first-half tries. The first try came after 13 minutes to All Blacks captain Kieran Read in his first Super Rugby match of the year.
Tamanivalu didn’t return from the sin-bin because of a head injury suffered in his collision with Matsushima. His replacement, George Bridge, scored one of the Crusaders’ three second-half tries and Whetu Douglas, who replaced Read, scored another.
Read was substituted early in the second half as was All Blacks prop Wyatt Crockett, who made his 176th appearance for the Crusaders to become the most-capped player in Super Rugby history.
Crockett took over that record from hooker Keven Mealamu, who made 175 appearances, mostly for the Auckland-based Blues. Wallabies captain Stephen Moore has 171 Super Rugby matches ahead of former Australian record-holder Nathan Sharpe with 162.
“We were good in some parts, we didn’t really finish that well but there were some good points — we got some guys out there for the first time so they’ll be buzzing with that feeling,” Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock said.
It was the first Sunwolves match played in New Zealand since they joined Super Rugby last season. They competed well in the open field at times, but lacked the set-piece platform they needed to challenge the Crusaders.
“We didn’t get any front-foot ball,” captain Ed Quirk said. “We had a game plan we wanted to come to, we knew what we wanted to do, but just didn’t do it in either half.”