Super Rugby: Manasa Mataele hat-trick as Canterbury Crusaders destroy sorry Sunwolves

Manasa Mataele (right) of the Crusaders is tackled by Jake Gordon (on ground) and Michael Hooper (second from left) of the Waratahs during a match on April 2.
Manasa Mataele (right) of the Crusaders is tackled by Jake Gordon (on ground) and Michael Hooper (second from left) of the Waratahs during a match on April 2.PHOTO: EPA

Wellington (AFP) - Manasa Mataele bagged a hat-trick of tries to set the table-topping Canterbury Crusaders up for a crushing 50-3 victory over the Sunwolves in their Super Rugby clash in Christchurch on Friday.

The overwhelming scoreline kept the Crusaders unbeaten after seven matches as they raced in eight tries to none to secure the important bonus point.

The hapless Sunwolves, who are co-based in Tokyo and Singapore, have only tasted victory once this year to go with their sole win in their maiden season last year.

In their first ever match in New Zealand, the Sunwolves were competitive for the first 20 minutes and managed to snuff out a Crusaders line out drive.

But when Crusaders right wing Seta Tamanivalu was yellow carded in the 25th minute for a dangerous tackle, his nephew Mataele sprang into action on the left wing, and it was all Crusaders from there.

Mataele ran in three quick tries as the Crusaders jumped from 14-3 ahead to lead 29-3 at half-time.

They piled on a further three tries in the second half before losing their finishing edge when the lopsided affair was used to blood junior members of their squad for the final quarter.

Despite the commanding win, Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock felt his side had lost a little accuracy after having a bye last week.

"We were a little bit rusty but the beauty is we got the win, which is the main thing, and got maximum points as well," he said.

"We were good in parts but we didn't really finish that well. We had a couple of guys out there for their first run so they'll be bursting with that feeling and that excitement."

It was a sharp return to earth for the Sunwolves who celebrated their first win of the season last week when they came from behind to beat the Northern Bulls 21-20.

They were dominated by a Crusaders pack bolstered by the return of All Blacks skipper Kieran Read who scored the first try of the night when the Crusaders used their superior power to drive him over the line.

Hooker Ben Funnell scored the second try, also from a forward drive, before Mataele brought the pace and dexterity of the Crusaders backline into action.

He scored two tries down the left side, and a third on the right as the match statistics highlighted a clear difference in class.

The Crusaders made 550 metres to 154 while the Sunwolves were forced to make 127 tackles to 59.

Pete Samu, George Bridge and Whetu Douglas scored further tries for the Crusaders in the first 20 minutes of the second half to bring up their 50 points.

Life gets tougher for the Crusaders next week when they host top South African side Western Stormers, while the Sunwolves head to Invercargill to play the Otago Highlanders.