PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) -Wing Cam Crawford scored a first-half hat trick as the New South Wales Waratahs outclassed Super 15 newcomers the Southern Kings 72-10 on Saturday.
Crawford scored the Waratahs’ first of 11 tries after just 38 seconds and the Australian visitors had a four-try bonus point inside 19 minutes at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which had rows of empty seats and a subdued crowd for the first time this season.
Left wing Peter Betham crossed for two tries and fullback Israel Folau one as the Tahs’ backs ran at the Kings with devastating effect, breaking tackles and finding holes with nearly every attack. New South Wales racked up seven tries in the first 40, with outstanding flanker Michael Hooper and lock Kane Douglas also going over.
Sergeal Petersen ended the first half with an intercept score for the Kings’ only five-pointer, but the Waratahs still added another four tries in the second for their huge win, abruptly ending the Kings’ unbeaten run and unexpected success against Australian teams in their debut season.
Leading 46-10 at the break, Waratahs captain Dave Dennis forced his way in near the left corner flag in the 46th and Betham went in for his second try 10 minutes later to make certain Petersen’s breakaway score was a blip.
Crawford was denied a fourth try because of an early tackle by Hooper in a 50-meter counter, but the Waratahs still had enough superiority to ease off in the second half, soak up some pressure from the Kings and score another two tries in the last 10 minutes through replacement backs Ben Volavola and Tom Kingston.
The win put the Waratahs on the brink of the playoff places, while the Kings have lost seven out of 10.
Flyhalf Bernard Foley and former rugby league and Australian Rules player Folau were the Waratahs’ chief playmakers as their backline ripped through the Kings right from the start.
Folau’s bust down the middle and offload set up Crawford’s opener within seconds of the kickoff, and Folau glided through a gap in the sixth minute for his try.
Crawford cut back from his right wing and sliced through poor Kings tackling for his second and the visitors’ third in the 15th and second-rower Douglas was free on the left wing for the bonus-point try in the 19th.
Foley’s break set up Hooper as the flyhalf threw a looping no-look pass over his right shoulder and the ever-present flanker snatched it out of the air to score near the posts. Betham strode in past the Kings’ flailing defense two minutes later and Crawford scored his hat-trick try four minutes before the break.
With the Waratahs off on another sweeping attack, Petersen pounced for his interception and finished with a soaring dive that perked the crowd up for the briefest of moments.
Dennis restored New South Wales’ dominance in the second and Betham ghosted through again as the Australian team prospered by constantly off-loading out of the tackle to supporting players in classy attacks. The Kings had no answer.
Even after a 20-minute lull, the Waratahs still raised themselves for two more scores when Volavola stepped outside and then inside, beating defenders for the 10th try. Kingston ran off another telling break by Folau for the final score.
New South Wales 72 (Cam Crawford 3, Peter Betham 2, Israel Folau, Kane Douglas, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Ben Volavola, Tom Kingston tries; Brendan McKibbin 5 conversions, penalty, Matt Lucas 2 conversions), Southern Kings 10 (Sergeal Petersen try; Demetri Catrakilis conversion, penalty). HT: 46-10.