Warm-up losses for Blues, Highlanders
The Waratahs beat the Blues 33-12 and the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 28-15 in Super Rugby warm-up games played on Friday.
The Waratahs, who were at close to full-strength, impressed observers with their superior cohesion and finish, strong defence and good line out work during an impressive first half.
The Blues scrum was put under scrutiny in the absence of prop Tony Woodcock, hooker Keven Mealamu and flanker Jerome Kaino. Missing from the backs were Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu.
Benjy Marshall had another tough night, not only from the fired up Waratahs loose forwards but also the home media who studied each of his 40 minutes for signs of readiness for Super Rugby.
Reports suggest he continued to move the ball on, make his tackles and do the basic jobs required of him, while there was one moment when he was able to start a Blues counter attack with some smart work.
In the game played in rain at Motueka, the Crusaders led 21-3 at half time.
Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Nafi Tuitavake and Kieron Fonotia scored tries for the Crusaders while Ged Robinson and Malakai Fekitoa scored for the Highlanders.
Two of the Crusaders tries, by Dagg and Tuitavake were long range affairs from more than 70m.
The game also produced some injury concerns for both sides with Dagg suffering a head knock and Adam Whitelock looking to leave the field due to a leg injury.
Elliot Dixon suffered a hamstring strain for the Highlanders while John Hardie played through a back complaint.