Ruthless Crusaders destroy Sunwolves in Brisbane, go top of Super Rugby

The Crusaders have overwhelmed the Sunwolves at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, running in seven tries to seal a 49-14 victory to take top spot in the Super Rugby standings.

The match was moved from Tokyo to Brisbane due to the coronavirus' impact in Japan, and the Crusaders sprung some surprise selections, resting five of their key All Blacks.

However, Scott Robertson's new look side didn't need any second invitation, opening the scoring on 19 minutes with flanker Tom Christie putting the Crusaders in front.

Despite a late first-half try to the Sunwolves through Ben Hyne, the Crusaders took the lead again before halftime when Sevu Reece made the most of an overlap on the right wing. The defending champions were ahead 14-7 at the break.

Veteran Luke Romano grabbed the first points of the second half as the Crusaders' forward pack drove over from close range.

The Sunwolves wouldn't roll over though and Garth April split the Crusaders' defence to bring the scores back to 21-14.

Reece's second restored the Crusaders' 14-point advantage before Sione Havili scored to earn the Kiwi side a bonus point.

However, Reece would turn from hero to villain when he was yellow carded in the 68th minute for a deliberate knock on.

The Crusaders were reduced to 14 as the Sunwolves threw everything at them in the hope of pulling off an incredible victory.

Despite the numerical disadvantage though, Braydon Ennor added to the Crusaders' lead and was on hand to finish off a well-worked try featuring offloads from Manasa Mataele and Brodie McAlister.

The only blemish came after reserve hooker Hugh Roach was shown a red card, reacting to a high tackle from the Sunwolves' Hencus van Wyk.

Youngster Fergus Burke sealed the win after fulltime siren by scoring on debut before converting his own try to complete the rout.

The win means that the Crusaders leapfrog the Blues at the top of the Super Rugby standings, sitting on 23 points from six matches, with five wins from their first six matches.