The rot has been undermining Australian rugby for the last couple of years – highlighted by New Zealand's trans-Tasman Super Rugby dominance – but now bits are starting to fall off the main structure and it all looks a bit unsightly.

The Kiwi streak – maintained by the Crusaders' near miraculous comeback against the Waratahs - now stands at 39 wins. Next weekend the Hurricanes play the Reds in Wellington and given the form of both sides it wouldn't be surprising if the bookmakers suspended a head-to-head betting option.

Brad Thorn's Reds were humiliated by 63-28 by the Sunwolves at Tokyo's Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium. They were ruthlessly exposed all over the field by a team who hadn't won a match all season and who will finish dead last again in 2018.

The Sunwolves scored two converted tries in the final two minutes; as sure a sign as any that the Reds players had waved the white flag – an unacceptable attitude for any coach but especially one with the background of Brad Thorn who was so tough and uncompromising as a player.


Straight after that match finished, the Crusaders v Waratahs game kicked off in Christchurch, the visitors streaking out to a 29-0 lead only to watch as Scott Robertson's men hauled them back in.

Disbelief. The Waratahs blew one of the best chances at ending the 39-game streak. Photo / Getty Images
Disbelief. The Waratahs blew one of the best chances at ending the 39-game streak. Photo / Getty Images

Wallabies first-five Bernard Foley, who stuck a dagger into the Crusaders when kicking the last-minute penalty for the Waratahs to win the 2014 Super Rugby final, missed two relatively easy penalties in the second half. It was another sign of the pressure on the Australian players.

"It hurts just about as much as last week; obviously two close games against New Zealand opposition," said Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson.

Last week the Blues held out the Waratahs 24-21 in Sydney to maintain the streak against the odds. This week the Crusaders did the same but in a very different way.

"We felt we were closer to winning that game but for two missed kicks at the end," Gibson said. "A couple of decisions – they proved really costly; the elbow from Joe Moody which was missed. It was to the head and I'm sure the powers that be will be looking at that. The yellow cards – there were obviously a few things that didn't go our way.

"All the media is saying the Australian teams can't compete with the New Zealand teams but we should have probably won those. We've got another two to go. We'll pick ourselves up."

An altercation breaks out during the Highlanders 40-17 victory over the Reds in Round 17 last year. Photo / Getty Images
An altercation breaks out during the Highlanders 40-17 victory over the Reds in Round 17 last year. Photo / Getty Images

Loosehead prop Moody has been cited and faces a suspension – to the probable dismay of the All Blacks selectors after his return from shoulder and finger injuries.

The Crusaders will be disappointed with Moody's off-the-ball elbow on Kurtley Beale too, but have the depth to cope should he be sidelined. That depth doesn't apply to the Australian teams who lurch from one defeat to the next with no end in sight.


To make matters worse, the crowd for the Brumbies v Rebels derby in Canberra, won by the visitors 27-24, was attended by the proverbial two men and a dog.

Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones, a broadcaster, tweeted: "Well can it get any worse. This is crisis time. Japan 63 points against Queensland. NSW lead by 29 and lose. And no one at the Brumbies/ Rebels game. Will someone, anyone, at Rugby HQ take responsibility for this shambles!!!!"

Blues apart, the Kiwi teams, keep trucking on. The Hurricanes didn't need to hit top gear to beat the Blues at Eden Park, the Highlanders coped well with their recent travel from South Africa to beat the Lions 39-27 in Dunedin, and the Chiefs edged the Stormers 15-9 in Cape Town despite their long-haul from Hamilton.

But for the convoluted conference system, the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Highlanders and Chiefs would make up the top four teams in the competition.

What are the stats saying from the streak?

• The 39-game winning streak began in Round 16 of 2016 when the Blues defeated the Brumbies 40-15 on July 8.

• The biggest winning margin is 65 points when the Hurricanes downed the Rebels 71-6 at home last year on March 4.

• In total, New Zealand sides have won by 830 points from the 39 games, on average Australian sides are losing by around 21 points per game.

• Of the 39 games, 21 one of them have been home games for Australian teams to New Zealand's 18.

• The lowest winning margin is two points which has happened on two occasions. First, in Round 3 last year when the Crusaders defeated the Reds 22-20, and secondly last night when the Crusaders came from behind to stun the Waratahs 31-29 in Christchurch.

• The Rebels have the worst losing record in the streak, losing by about 30 points each game.

• The Waratahs have the best losing record in the streak, losing by an average of around 10 points each game.

• The Hurricanes have the best winning record against the Australians, winning by around 27 points per game.

• The Blues have the worst winning record against the Australian, winning by around 12 points per game.

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