Super Rugby Notebook, May 6: Macilai hat-trick sends Crusaders top, Brumbies claim key win


Jone Macilai scored three tries as Crusaders moved top of Super Rugby's New Zealand Conference, for 24 hours at least, with a clinical 38-5 victory over Queensland Reds on Friday.

Crusaders' eighth win in succession was inspired by Macilai, who crossed twice in the opening eight minutes before completing his hat-trick early in the second half.

Macilai also laid on a score for Scott Barrett and charged down a Jake McIntyre conversion following the Reds' solitary try.

Todd Blackadder's Crusaders now lead Chiefs on points difference, although the latter can regain top spot when they face Highlanders on Saturday. 

The Brumbies are the new leaders of the Australia Conference after beating South African franchise Bulls in Canberra.



Crusaders 38-5 Queensland Reds

The absence of suspended wing Nemani Nadolo was offset by the outstanding efforts of another Fijian as Macilai put the Reds to the sword. His two early tries gave Crusaders a comfortable lead and the Reds were subsequently unable to capitalise on long periods of possession. Although the hosts effectively sealed victory in the first half, there were two moments of magic after the interval. Campbell Magnay claimed the Reds' only score following a McIntyre chip over the top, while Jordan Taufua sold an outrageous dummy to Eto Nabuli on his way to Crusaders' fifth try.


Brumbies 23-6 Bulls

Following back-to-back defeats at the hands of opposition from New Zealand, the Brumbies got back on track with an impressive performance. It was Bulls who made the brighter start, but their opponents grew in stature and second-half tries from Nigel Ah Wong and Tomas Cubelli secured a deserved win.



The Reds were left with too much to do after Macilai's early brace. On both occasions, Israel Dagg provided the final pass for the wing to finish in the left corner - his second try following a delightful break from midfield.

After edging into a 9-3 lead by half-time, the Brumbies opened up a telling lead when a short pass from Christian Lealiifano led to Ah Wong claiming the opening try.



Brumbies skipper Stephen Moore hailed his side's response to their recent defeats. "It was important to win tonight," he told Fox Sports. 

"We had a couple of losses on the trot, so it was good to get home and get a win.

Opposite number Adriaan Strauss said: "We made a lot of mistakes, a lot of decisions that we didn't execute that well. But at the end of the day that's what happens when you play against a quality side and they put you under that much pressure."



While Crusaders top the New Zealand Conference, Queensland Reds remain stuck on just 12 points as their miserable campaign continues.

The Brumbies are two points clear of previous Australian Conference leaders Melbourne Rebels, who are not in action this week. Waratahs, who have two games in hand on Stephen Larkham's men, could take over at the summit by beating Cheetahs on Saturday. Bulls retain the wildcard position in the South African Group despite their defeat.