Zac Guildford made a winning return as the Crusaders overwhelmed the Southern Kings 55-20 in a lop-sided Super Rugby match at Christchurch on Saturday.
The Crusaders hammered South African opponents for the second straight game, running in seven tries to two, with six of them going to forwards.
It reflected the dominance of the home pack against a Kings side who spent most of the night defending in suffering a third successive defeat.
It was the first away match in the Kings’ inaugural season and came at the end of a tumultuous week.
The South African Rugby Union announced it would investigate the team for using more than two overseas players – a SARU stipulation – during their loss to the Chiefs last week.
There was no such pressure on the Crusaders, coming off a 41-19 humbling of the Bulls.
They dominated from the outset, marching over the advantage line at will and snuffing out the Kings’ infrequent attacking opportunities.
All Blacks winger Guildford produced a solid 80 minutes for the seven-time champions in his first appearance since leaving the franchise in January to address alcoholism issues.
He was named on the reserve bench but started the game after fullback Israel Dagg was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Guildford threw the final pass to put flanker George Whitelock over for the opening try after four minutes, the first of a hat-trick for the tough flanker.
Whitelock’s second bisected tries to prop Wyatt Crockett and halfback Willie Heinz as the Crusaders bagged a bonus point.
Flanker Wimpie van der Walt drove over from a lineout for the Kings’ only try on the stroke of halftime, leaving them trailing 31-13.
They also scored the last try in the second half, to fullback George Whitehead, but not before Whitelock bagged his third, alongside tries to younger brother Luke Whitelock and fellow-loose forward Matt Todd.
Five-eighth Demetri Catrakilis kicked eight points for the Kings while his opposite, Dan Carter, landed seven from seven shots for a 16-point haul.
It was Carter’s last game for at least two weeks after the All Blacks playmaker chose to skip the next two matches in South Africa, remaining in New Zealand for the arrival of his first child.
The Crusaders will travel there with a two win-two loss record while the Kings have slumped to 1-3 ahead of next week’s match against the Hurricanes in Wellington.