Manasa Mataele claimed a first-half hat-trick and Kieran Read scored on his return as eight-try Crusaders thrashed Sunwolves 50-3 in Wyatt Crockett’s record-breaking Super Rugby appearance.


Crockett led the free-scoring seven-time champions out at AMI Stadium on an emotional Friday night for the long-serving New Zealand prop, who has now played more Super Rugby games than any other player.

The stalwart was given a standing ovation when he came off along with All Blacks captain Read early in the second half after surpassing Keven Mealamu’s tally of 175 appearances in the competition.

It was also a big evening for Read, who played 40 minutes for Christchurch club University last weekend and made his first Hurricanes appearance of the year against Sunwolves after recovering from wrist surgery.

The inspirational number eight made up for lost time in wet conditions, powering his way over for the opening try following a driving maul 13 minutes in and Ben Funnell added another with Sunwolves under immense pressure.

Mataele then took centre stage, the 20-year-old wing in the right place to help himself to a nine-minute treble as the New Zealand Conference leaders surged 29-3 ahead at the end of a first half in which Seta Tamanivalu was yellow-carded for taking Teruya Goto out in the air.

The dominant Crusaders eased to a seventh win out of seven, with Peter Samu, George Bridge and Whetu Douglas adding further five-pointers to bring the outclassed Sunwolves back down to earth following their win over Bulls.

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