HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) — The Christchurch-based Crusaders extended their winning streak to 10 games when they beat the Chiefs 34-20 Saturday to consolidate their place atop the Super Rugby table as the tournament breaks for a month for June internationals.
The Crusaders' 11th win in their last 14 New Zealand derbies, following last weekend's win over the second-place Hurricanes, gave the defending champions a nine-point lead atop the table with three regular-season rounds remaining.
The Chiefs, depleted by injuries, fought hard to defend an 11-match winning streak in Hamilton but were overwhelmed by a Crusaders team which is now favored to win its ninth Super Rugby title.
"We knew it was going to be tough," Crusaders captain Matt Todd said. "It's a very tough place to win up here but we knew we had to back up last week's effort and all the boys who came in — we had a lot of late changes — got an opportunity and took it."
New South Wales ensured it stayed in top spot in the Australia conference with a 52-41 win over the Queensland Reds. The Waratahs lead the Melbourne Rebels by one point.
The Waratahs scored eight tries and the Red seven.
Earlier, center Billy Meakes scored two tries as the Rebels beat the Auckland-based Blues 20-10.
The loss was the Blues' first in their last 12 matches against Australian opponents and marked a new low point in a season in which they have won only three of 13 games and are now 20 points from their closest rival at the bottom of the New Zealand conference.
The ACT Brumbies host the Tokyo-based Sunwolves on Sunday in the final match of the round before a four-week break for internationals.