What a difference a week makes for the Crusaders.
The Super Rugby Aotearoa champions reaffirmed their status as the team to beat in Super Rugby Transtasman with a thunderous victory over their fellow 2021 title winners, the Australian champion Reds.
One week ago, an error-ridden red and blacks side nervously wiped the sweat away from their brow when a missed conversion was all that separated them from a demoralising draw with the Brumbies on home turf.
Tonight, on a balmy night in Brisbane where the Reds' 2011 Super Rugby title winning side – who beat the Crusaders in the final 10 years ago – was celebrated, the Cantabrians erased any Queensland-centric hopes of a similar result early on.
The scoreboard flattered the Reds somewhat, and the cohort of Australian rugby franchises and passionate followers may want to rethink the notion they are the best they have to offer, with this defeat coming a week after a sizeable loss to the Highlanders.
The Crusaders made light work of the Reds' defensive structures right from kick-off, led by chief playmaker Richie Mo'unga who was at his typical poaching best, pouncing on a loose ball to score their first before breaking free to set up the second for an early 14-0 lead.
The early platform was laid and the Crusaders high-octane attack and defensive line speed worked in tandem to produce an array of attacking opportunities. As they always do, the Crusaders worked the ball out of their own half with unrivalled confidence and more often than not getting results.
That was helped by an incredible work rate at the breakdown led by their polarising backrow trio of Whetukamokamo Douglas, Ethan Blackadder and Cullen Grace, as the visitors enjoyed 60 per cent of the ball on the night.
As the opening half wore on, deft attacking sequences ensued for the Crusaders, who for all the little moments they were careless in possession, were clinical in most others.
To the Reds' credit, they had little to no fear in experimenting with the ball, which included a handful of grubber kicks in behind the defence, which the Crusaders had little trouble in sniffing out.
The hosts held their own in the forwards battle and at set piece time, with a better scrum winning percentage while snagging two lineouts against the throw.
Mo'unga dug into his bag of tricks in the second half with a terrific solo effort for his third five-pointer, adding to an earlier score for Sevu Reece – his second – to make it 42-7.
The Reds came to life in patches with tries coming just before halftime to halfback Tate McDermott, before two in a matter of minutes courtesy of Harry Wilson and Suliasi Vunivalu in the second half saw them trail 49-21 with 15 minutes to play.
Hopes a valiant comeback was on the cards however was nullified, thanks to tries to replacement prop Tamaiti Williams and skipper Codie Taylor for the Crusaders in the final 11 minutes, to nail in a nine-try showcase.
The Reds' losing drought to the Crusaders now stretches to 10 years, while the Crusaders continued New Zealand's superb dominance in the formative weeks of the Transtasman competition, with 10 wins from 10.
Crusaders 63 (Richie Mo'unga 3, Sevu Reece 2, Cullen Grace, Tamaiti Williams, penalty try, Codie Taylor tries; Mo'unga 8 cons)
Reds 28 (Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Suliasi Vunivalu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa tries; James O'Connor 4 cons)