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Cruden and Beale back in action
ESPNscrum Staff
February 3, 2012
All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden is tackled, New Zealand v France, Rugby World Cup Final, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 23, 2011
Aaron Cruden has not played since the Rugby World Cup Final © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Kurtley Beale | Aaron Cruden | James O'Connor
Tournaments/Tours: Super Rugby

All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden played his first game since the Rugby World Cup Final as the Chiefs routed the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby trial match on Friday.

The Kiwi side - who finished bottom of the New Zealand conference last season - ran in six tries in Geelong, completing a 36-0 victory with minimal fuss.

While Cruden made his return from a knee injury, fellow new recruit Sonny Bill Williams sat out as he prepares for his next foray into the boxing ring.

The Rebels gave run-outs to new recruits James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, attracting a crowd of 3,000 in the process.

Beale looked particularly sharp on his comeback from a hamstring problem, although he will continue to manage his workload after a long lay-off.

''The body felt good. There were a few little bursts out there that definitely filled the lungs and knocked a few cobwebs around,'' Beale told The Age. ''I'm ready to go [against the Blues next weekend].''

Meanwhile, a hat-trick from centre Ryan Crotty helped the Crusaders - last year's beaten finalists - to a comfortable 47-19 victory over the Highlanders at Rugby Park in Greymouth in their pre-season opener.

And the Blues, led by Jerome Kaino in the absence of Keven Mealamu, opened their pre-season account with a convincing 36-22 victory over the Hurricanes in Whangarei on Saturday.

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