Super Rugby

Waratahs edge Rebels in derby thriller




The Waratahs beat the Rebels 26-31 in a pulsating Australian derby at AAMI Park, Melbourne.

Two late tries from Ned Hanigan and Bernard Foley, who ran 50 metres after an intercept, broke Melbourne hearts as the Waratahs came from 26-17 down with less than 10 minutes to play.

The game ended in unusual fashion with New South Wales winning a turnover on their try-line and then pick-and-driving for two minutes to run out the clock.

They went 15 phases before losing the ball, however, they held on for the win which puts them top of the Australian Conference.

The Rebels dominated the second-half except for the two intercepts that cost them the game.

Dave Wessels’ men twice came from seven points down five minutes before and after the break, but they could not account for the late drama and opportunism by the Sydney side.

This was a battle for top spot in the Australian Conference, and a chance for the Rebels to finally upstage their illustrious opponents.

Wessels has had his team start hot this season, but results tailed in the middle of the campaign.

Victory in this fixture would have been their fourth on the bounce.

It was time to make a statement.

Waratahs’ captain Michael Hooper out with a hamstring and Israel Folau suspended at the eleventh hour, this was a perfect time to play the Tahs.

Tight first quarter.

Reece Hodge kicked an early penalty, but Billy Meakes’ yellow card on 16 minutes, turned the game in favour of the visitors.

Within two minutes, the Waratahs scored.

Several phases ended with Nick Phipps switching play and sending a pass to the superb Kurtley Beale.

The inside centre raced through a gap made by Tom English shooting the line.

Beale then popped to Taqele Naiyaravoro, who was in for his 12th score of the season, equaling the missing Folau, who is suspended.

Hodge missed a shot at goal before Foley extended the lead to seven.

This was the first of two seven-point deficits that the Rebels would haul.

In the 36th-minute, from the first-phase ball, Dane Haylett-Petty took Meakes’ pass, ghosted through Beale and Curtis Rona and galloped away to score.

Hodge levelled, but that was not the end to the half.

There was still time for the Waratahs to conjure some magic. Beale sent a pass to Rona, who stepped out of a tackle to make it a three on two for Alex Newsome to exploit on the sideline.

The winger charged forward, but with three defenders approaching, he looked inside and saw Will Miller and flung the ball to the flanker to score.

It was stunning, and the visitors led at the break.

Rebels come out firing.

Whatever the Melbourne coaching team said during halftime, it worked a treat.

The Rebels were camped inside Tahs’ territory and the penalties came.

Dane Haylett-Petty took one penalty quickly and barged towards the try-line, taking two defenders with him.

Michael Ruru, in support, picked up and darted over the goal-line for the try.

Hodge kicked the conversion and three penalties to overturn a seven-point deficit and give his team a nine-point advantage.

The Rebels dominated for 30 minutes after the break and looked likely to keep the third side scoreless in the second-half.

It was not to be. The Waratahs had something extra in the tank and after making tackle after tackle, they hit back.

Beale’s break set-up an attack inside the opposition’s 22. Several phases later, Hanigan crashed over.

The flanker’s score gave his team hope, a slim hope, but hope non the less.

The try against the run of play did not affect the home team, instead, they kept pushing.

Then disaster at the end.

Foley, captain for the game, intercepted Meakes’ pass and dashed away to score under the posts.

His conversion pushed the lead to five with five to play.

Still, the Rebels came. In wave after wave of attack, the visitors stood strong, halting two lineout drives, a tap and go and numerous pick-and-drives.

Eventually, they won another crucial turnover and began their mammoth two-minute pick-and-drive from their line, eating up time.

What a way to win a derby. Phew.

Rebels versus Waratahs video highlights.

Final score: Rebels 26 (10) Waratahs 31 (17)


Tries – D. Haylett-Petty, M. Ruru
Pen – Hodge (4)
Con – Hodge (2)
Drop –
Cards – Meakes (Yellow, 16′)

Tries – Naiyaravoro, Miller, Hanigan, Foley
Pen – Foley
Con – Foley (4)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan way
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore



Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English (captain), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Ben Daley.

Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Semisi Tupou

Waratahs: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (Captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.

Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Alex Newsome.

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