MELBOURNE: Australia's Super Rugby teams faced harsh reviews and "honesty sessions" on Monday as they digested another whitewash by their New Zealand counterparts in the second round of the Trans-Tasman competition.
New Zealand's five teams have now won all 10 matches in the first two rounds, underlining the gulf in class between the nations.
While still far from Australia's 40-match losing streak to New Zealand opponents which spanned two years of Super Rugby up to 2018, alarm bells are ringing about the long-term viability of the competition.
Australia's strongest sides were humiliated, with Super Rugby AU champions Queensland suffering a record 63-28 loss to the winners of New Zealand's Aotearoa, Canterbury Crusaders.
The ACT Brumbies fared little better in a battle of the losing finalists from the domestic competitions, falling 40-19 to the Waikato Chiefs.
"Obviously we're all pretty devastated with the result," Brumbies and Wallabies flyhalf Noah Lolesio told reporters on Monday.
"It's not what we wanted at all. We've had a pretty harsh review so far and we're just keeping everyone accountable for that performance that we did."
The Reds were the toast of Australia after snatching victory in a thriller over the Brumbies in front of 40,000 fans at Lang Park two weeks ago but have now conceded 104 points, including their first-round thrashing by the Otago Highlanders.
"We're not going to make excuses, that was a pretty poor performance," Reds loose forward Angus Scott-Young said on Monday.
"That's a reality check and we'll grow from that.
"We're going to have an honesty session today, look at where we went wrong, how we can improve.
"But there's still a lot salvage from this tournament."
The domestic Super Rugby AU enjoyed positive ratings as Australians tuned in to watch a competition that guaranteed local winners on a weekly basis.
But media pundits are already questioning whether fans can deal with weekly beatdowns from New Zealand sides in the Trans-Tasman matchups.
While New Zealand hopes to broaden the Trans-Tasman competition to include two Pacific sides next year, more lop-sided results could doom their plans.
Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan, who has been lobbying stakeholders to sell off a stake in the domestic game to private equity firms, said the losing streak underlined the need for investment to stop a talent drain to rugby league and richer competitions overseas.
"We can no longer afford to lose players like Will Skelton, Rory Arnold and Joseph Suaalii to other codes or overseas whilst we continue to fix the game," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)