Super Rugby

Heroic Waratahs upset ill-disciplined Crusaders




NSW Waratahs beat Crusaders 24-21 in a thrilling Super Rugby Pacific Trans-Tasman clash at Leichhardt Oval, Sydney.

There was pandemonium in Sydney as the Waratahs held off a strong second-half fightback from the champion Crusaders to win a famous Super Rugby victory.

The Waratahs had a deserved three-score lead going into the second half against an out-of-sorts Crusaders, who took 47 minutes to get on the scoreboard.

But Scott Robertson’s elite charges fought back to cut the gap to 17-14 going into the final quarter.

The Tahs withstood the pressure – and lots of poor refereeing calls – to increase their lead back to 10 with less than 11 to play after their pack demolished the opposition and won a penalty try.

To make it more impressive, the Waratahs became the first team to earn a penalty try against the Crusaders in six years.

The Saders scored moments later to make the final five minutes as nerve-wracking as any for NSW, their coaches, and their home fans. But they held on.

Both teams notch two tries and a penalty try apiece, but discipline proves the difference

Dylan Pietsch and Mark Nawaqanitawase crossed for the home team, who were also awarded a late penalty try to seal the deal.

An emotional Tane Edmed, playing on the field his father used to grace for the Balmain Tigers, was superb.

The young playmaker kicked one penalty and two conversions (7 pts), and he was instrumental in the lead-up to Pietsch’s try.

David Havili and Fletcher Newell dotted down for the tourists, who were also awarded a penalty try. Fergus Burke and Simon Hickey each added a conversion.

Robertson will be annoyed with his side’s ill-discipline.

Hamish Dalzell (red) and Pablo Matera (yellow) both received cards, which proved decisive in the final outcome.

The Crusaders were in control and had all the momentum before Dalzell lost his head.

The 26-year-old should have received a red card for a 64th-minute hit on Edmed, but the officials botched the call with some all-time incompetence.

Less than four minutes later, the lock was sent off for taking out Michael Hooper with a similar dangerous tackle.

New South Wales scored from the resulting penalty, and Matera went to the bin to leave the visitors with 13v15.

Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco was yellow-carded for Darren Coleman’s side, but the No 8’s card did not cost any points, while the two cards cost the Saders the game.

Newell’s late try made for a nervy finale, but the heroic home team held on for the win.

The Waratahs led 17-0 as they kept the Crusaders scoreless after an impressive opening period

The Crusaders had won 16 of the previous 19 Super Rugby clashes with NSW, but the Sydney side had enjoyed some recent success at home.

The hosts had won three of the last five games at home versus the visitors.

Curiously, they had not beaten a New Zealand side in the last 11 matches going back to 2019 when they got one over their Trans-Tasman rivals.

The Saders, who had won 25 of their last 26 games versus Australian opposition, were shell-shocked as the Aussies came out firing in the suburbs.

The Waratahs took a surprising 14-0 lead, in almost as many minutes, thanks to tries by Pietsch and Nawaqanitawase.

The Tahs’ intensity and cutting edge saw them catch the Kiwis off-guard.

Pietsch opened the scoring. The winger slid under the posts after a well-timed angled run from the second phase off the back of a scrum.

Edmed charged forward, Pietsch took Jake Gordon’s delayed pass, fended off Bryn Hall, and raced away from Sevu Reece to score.

A nine-phase attack ended with Harry Johnson-Holmes being held up. The Tahs did, however, have a penalty advantage after David Havili was caught offside.

Moreover, Gordon opted for the attacking lineout, and it worked.

Izaia Perese fended off Gardiner before holding off Burke and Hall. Perese stayed up long enough to offload out the back door to Nawaqanitawase to waltz over in the corner.

Edmed made no mistake with either of his conversion attempts.

Sloppy Crusaders lay an egg as they remain without points at halftime

An uncharacteristically sloppy first-half performance from the 10-time champions hindered Robertson’s side. Chances were few and far between.

The Kiwis conceded eight turnovers to one in the first stanza despite having 73% territory. The first-time tackling proved costly (83% tackle success rate).

Both Tahs’ tries came because Hall and Gardiner fell off first-time tackles.

Tom Christie got held up over the try line after a powerful rolling maul, while Matera suffered the same fate near the goalline.

A couple of forays into the opposition’s 22 ended with handling errors or turnovers, which kept the New Zealand juggernaut without any points.

Edmed kicked a late penalty to increase his side’s advantage before the break.

The Crusaders fight back with three second-half tries as the Waratahs wilted after the interval

The Crusaders began with another handling error when Havili lost possession.

Moments later, Leicester Fainga’anuku also knocked on, but the hosts were caught offside. Burke booted to the corner.

The Saders went quickly with a well-worked rolling maul and were awarded a penalty try for cynical play during the drive.

Warren-Vosayaco saw yellow for deliberately bringing down the maul before the line.

Despite the relentless pressure from the Canterbury men, and being a man down, New South Wales kept the visitors out.

The visitors did not score while Warren-Vosayaco was on the sideline. However, some poor officiating led to the Kiwis setting up another attacking lineout on the NSW try line.

The Ben O’Keeffe show goes into overdrive as Hamish Dalzell loses his mind with two dangerous tackles

Ben O’Keeffe misses two “potential” forward passes in the build-up to the penalty. Jed Holloway won the ball but lost it as quickly.

The Crusaders went through the hands to Havili. The centre swivelled through Gordon’s tackle and reached out to score. Burke converted to make it 17-14.

Dalzell made contact to the head of Edmed with an awful hit, but O’Keeffe allowed the forward to stay on the field.

Pietsch was tackled into touch, but the ref had to take another look at a dangerous high tackle by Dalzell on Hooper, who left the field.

This time, Dalzell went off. It was another shocker from the forward – both hits were red. Gordon opted for another lineout.

The Tahs forwards destroyed the Saders pack and win a penalty try of their own.

Matera saw yellow for the same cynical play that led to the Crusaders’ penalty try. But you cannot count out Robertson’s championship side.

They went back down the field and scored through Newell, Hickey converted to make it 24-21 with less than five to play.

With minutes left on the clock, Cullen Grace got isolated after a nine-phase attack. Sione Havili Talitui also entered the breakdown from the side.

O’Keeffe awarded the penalty to the Waratahs inside their 22, which led to another after piggybacking infringements by the visitors.

The home side ran down the clock as they decided whether to kick at goal or boot to touch.

The time-wasting was expertly pulled off as the hooter sounded, and the ball flew into touch. Cue scenes.

Final Score: Waratahs 24 (17) Crusaders 21 (0)


Tries – Pietsch, Nawaqanitawase, Penalty try
Pen – Edmed
Con – Edmed (2)
Drop –
Cards – Warren-Vosayaco (Yellow, 47′)

Tries – Penalty try, Havili, Newell
Pen –
Con – Burke, Hickey
Drop –
Cards – Dalzell (Red, 68′), Matera (Yellow, 69′)

Match Officials
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Reuben Keane
Assistant Ref 2: Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie


NSW Waratahs: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Charlie Gamble, 5 Hugh Sinclair, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Mahe Vailanu, 1 Angus Bell.

Replacements: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Archer Holz, 19 Geoffrey Cridge, 20 Will Harris, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 James Ramm.

Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Gardiner, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 George Bower.

16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Hamish Dalzell, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Dallas McLeod.

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