Super Rugby Pacific: Sevu Reece double in vain as Crusaders stunned by NSW Waratahs to remain winless

The Crusaders have been stunned and fallen to a shock defeat at the hands of NSW Waratahs, beaten 37-24 at Melbourne's AAMI Park.

A week on from their season-opening loss to the Chiefs, the Crusaders looked a shell of the side that won seven successive titles under Scott Robertson, as the Waratahs secured their first win of the season.

All up, the Crusaders were in front for just 12 minutes on the night, as the Waratahs ran in four tries in a performance led by first-five Tane Edmed.  

Defeat leaves the Crusaders with a daunting task to get their first win of the year, with a trip to Lautoka next weekend to face Fijian Drua away from home.

The Waratahs celebrate victory over the Crusaders.
The Waratahs celebrate victory over the Crusaders. Photo credit: Getty Images

Despite the Crusaders taking the lead in the first 90 seconds through winger Macca Springer, ill-discipline saw the Waratahs take a one-point advantage early in the first half through the boot of two Edmed penalties.  

But as the Crusaders threatened the Waratahs' tryline, Sevu Reece finally turned pressure into points, and finished in the right corner from the back of a scrum against 14 men when prop Harry Johnson-Holmes was sent to the sin bin.

However, even a disadvantage, the Waratahs hit the front again when a David Havili kick was charged down by lock Hugh Sinclair, as Edmed's conversion gave the Australian side a 13-10 advantage.

Another Edmed penalty extended that advantage to 16-10, before more ill-discipline saw the Crusaders reduced to 14 as Dominic Gardiner was shown yellow for repeat infringement.

And to rub salt into the wounds, a break from Edmed freed Harry Wilson, who scored with the final act of the first half to see the reigning champions trail 23-10 at halftime.

A surging run from 2024 recruit Levi Aumua paved the way for the Crusaders to get back into the contest as a pick and go from Reece resulted in his second try, and narrowed the gap to six points thanks to a successful conversion from Taha Kemara.

But as the Crusaders overcommitted in attack, an intercept and break downfield from halfback Jake Gordon saw Edmed pull off a perfect crossfield kick to the left wing, as Triston Reilly made no mistake with the finish.

Played under advantage, Reilly's try also saw the Crusaders reduced to 14 men once more, as Chay Fihaki was sinbinned for cynical play.

After playing such an instrumental role in setting up one try, Gordon was rewarded with one of his own, when Mitchell Drummond's fumble allowed his opposite to pounce and race downfield to score the Waratahs' fourth.

Reece appeared to have completed his hattrick one minute later, as a stunning solo effort saw the winger chip over the top, gather, and claim a try – only for replays to have shown him knock-on attempting to ground the ball.

Christian Lio-Willie grabbed a consolation effort inside the final 10 minutes, crashing over from close range to close the scores to 37-24, but it was too little too late for a side who for so long set the standard.

The loss sees the Crusaders fall to 10th on the ladder, and leapfrogged by the Waratahs, who rise from 11th to eigth, ahead of Moana Pasifika, who defeated Fijian Drua for their first win of the season earlier on Saturday.

Crusaders 24 (Springer, Reece 2, Lio-Willie tries; Kemara, Havili conversions) 
NSW Waratahs 37 (Sinclair, Wilson, Reilly, Gordon tries; Edmed 4 conversions & 3 penalties)

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