No regrets from Waratahs


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The Waratahs have no regrets despite falling short in a gripping Super 14 final against the Crusaders. The ones that got some sleep last night anyway.

The bleary-eyed Waratahs boarded a 7am flight out of Christchurch after a tense and gallant 20-12 loss to the Crusaders at AMI Stadium – and most opted to spend the night drowning their sorrows after their second runners-up finish in three years.

But outgoing coach Ewen McKenzie and senior players Phil Waugh and Rocky Elsom all agreed that the Waratahs had given it their best shot at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

“What do you say? I don’t have any regrets about the game, apart from not winning it,” McKenzie told AAP.

“I don’t have any regrets about how we went about it. You can always argue a decision here or there or an execution or whatever, but generally speaking we played with the intent we wanted to play with.

“Two tries to one, I think we were heading in the right direction.”

If McKenzie could turn back time, he would not have lost five-eighth Kurtley Beale in the 55th minute with an ankle injury when the Crusaders were clinging to a 14-12 lead and down a man with lock Brad Thorn in the sin bin for punching NSW opposite Dan Vickerman.

“It’s the first time he (Beale) hasn’t been on the field for us all year,” McKenzie said.

“Sam Norton-Knight did a pretty good job filling in there, but I guess it’s a scenario we haven’t spent a lot time covering.

“So there’s a lot of comfort having (Beale) there because he’s been there for so many minutes.”

Waugh, though, refused to believe Beale’s injury – which will almost certainly scratch the teenager from Australia’s under-20 world championship campaign in Wales this month – had cost the Waratahs the chance to win their first Super rugby crown.

“It was a big blow, but Sam has played a lot at 10 so I don’t think we could use that as a reason why we lost the game or why we lost momentum at that particular time,” the Waratahs captain said.

“I don’t think that would be fair.”

Waugh nominated the timing of the Crusaders’ only try – to No.8 Mose Tuaili’i – three minutes before halftime as the turning point, claiming it gave the home side a massive psychological edge heading into the break.

The five-pointer allowed the Crusaders to trail just 12-11 at halftime, having been down 12-3 after 32 minutes thanks to two spectacular tries to Waratahs winger Lachie Turner.

The Crusaders then produced a mighty second-half defensive effort, keeping the Waratahs scoreless, to surge to victory on the back of a 15-point haul from superstar flyhalf Dan Carter, who slotted four penalties and a vital drop goal.

“What really hurt us was just not scoring points,” Elsom said.

“But, when you look at the performance, we had a crack and they were the better team by the end of it.”


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