New Zealand teams well and truly have bragging rights after the first week of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition.
Australian rugby pride is at stake this weekend after New Zealand teams dominated the opening Super Rugby Trans-Tasman round.
Kiwi teams won all five first-round matches over their Aussie opponents.
Super Rugby AU champions Queensland lost 40-19 to the Highlanders in Dunedin, the Waratahs were beaten 64-48 at home by the Hurricanes, while the Rebels were thrashed 50-3 in Melbourne by the rampant Auckland.
The Brumbies and the Force came close in losing 31-29 and 20-19 respectively to the Crusaders and the Chiefs, but there was no doubting the superiority of the New Zealand teams in the first week of the new competition.
The results also showed that betting markets last week that had the five Kiwi sides ahead of the Australian teams in the title race were on the mark.
“All the Aussie teams playing this weekend are going to be looking to get a result … there’s no happiness with those (first-round) results,” said Wallabies lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, whose Queensland side host the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
“People are talking about that gap, that there’s a big difference, (but) I think for us there’s been some positives in terms of Aussie rugby and what was on display over the weekend.
“It’s great to have this Trans-Tasman competition, and for us we’re looking to turn the corner and hopefully get a result this weekend … we all definitely need to win.”
Salakaia-Loto and his Wallabies and Queensland teammate Taniela Tupou said there were no excuses for the Reds’ 21-point loss to the Highlanders despite a disrupted preparation following their Super Rugby AU final success less than a week before.
“We just weren’t prepared enough for the Highlanders,” powerful prop Tupou said.
“We know what we need to work on. We’ll be up for it.”
With each team only playing five matches before the top two meet in the final, the Reds, as well as the four other Australian teams, can’t afford another loss.
Salakaia-Loto said: “We’re up against a world-class, quality Crusaders side.
“We’re going to have to be at our best and playing the Queensland rugby we know we can play.
“We can’t drop (any more) games. We know that as does every other team.”
In other round 2 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman matches, the Hurricanes host the Rebels, the Force meet the Highlanders in Perth, the Blues take on the Waratahs, and the Brumbies visit Waikato to play the Chiefs.