Super Rugby

Waratahs hold off late Rebels fightback




The Waratahs beat the Melbourne Rebels 32-38 in Round Nine of Super Rugby AU at Leichhardt Oval, Sydney.

The Waratahs won an entertaining Super Rugby AU clash, scoring all five of their tries under the posts, after holding off a late Rebels’ fightback.

The win keeps the Waratahs in the hunt for a playoff berth, the bonus-point for losing within seven keeps the Rebels in the playoff hunt, too.

The Waratahs led 10-17 after two close-range tries from Jake Gordon and Jack Dempsey, but the Rebels stayed in the contest with all the Melbourne side’s points coming from Matt To’omua.

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To’omua kicked a third-minute penalty and converted his 37th-minute try as the Rebels fought back late in the half.

Will Harrison, who had converted Gordon’s and Dempsey’s scores, kicked a penalty after the hooter to make it a one-goal game.

Isi Naisarani and Harry Johnson-Holmes traded a try apiece 10 minutes after halftime as both sides upped the tempo.

Joey Walton waltzed through some iffy defending as the Waratahs put their foot on their opponent’s throats with a fourth try under the posts to open up a two-score lead before the hour mark.

Marika Koroibete brought his team back into the contest in the 64th-minute after a superb counter-attack by the backs.

Naisarani had a brace when he scored from close range in the 71st-minute, but To’omua, who picked the wrong time to miss his first kick, could not level.

Harrison scored a converted try before a late To’omua penalty earned the Rebels a losing bonus-point to keep their playoff aspirations alive.

Rob Penney’s men dominated much of the first half but could have been way ahead if not for some errors inside the Rebels’ 22.

An early Toomua penalty opened the scoring for the Rebels, but three minutes later, Gordon darted around an undefended ruck to score under the posts.

The wily halfback has been in fine form this season and caused the Rebels lots of problems, especially his opposite number Frank Lomani.

Harrison added the extras. To’omua had a chance to reduce the gap to one after Melbourne were awarded a penalty before a scuffle broke out.

The stand-off, starting at centre, hit the post and the ball bounced out.

Gordon thought he was away for a double, a few minutes later, but the referee spotted a slight knock-on as he contested Lomani for the ball at the back of a scrum.

The scrumhalf almost combined with Michael Hooper after a well-worked lineout move, but his pass to Hooper was slightly forward.

The pressure finally told when Dempsey caught the Rebels napping at the breakdown and scored under the posts in the 23rd-minute.

Harrison extended the lead from in front.

The Sydney men went close again, but a sustained attack on the opposition’s try-line came to nothing after the forwards knocked on trying to bash their way over.

Out of nowhere, and just before halftime, the Rebels found themselves in a good position inside the Tahs’ 22.

They went to four driving mauls before To’omua’s brave line saw him crash over a minute before the break.

Hanigan got sin-binned for a toting up of offences by the Waratahs before the centre’s try.

To’omua converted his score to make it 10-14, but Harrison added three points after the hooter to open up a seven-point lead.

Both teams traded blows in an exciting second stanza as the points flowed.

The Rebels began the second half where they finished the first, with a try from No 8 Naisarani.

It came from an 11-phase attack that ended with a penalty that was kicked to the corner. Following a good take, the Rebels’ pack set-up a solid drive before Naisarani broke away to score.

To’omua’s wide conversion was good, levelling proceedings seven minutes after the restart.

But Penney’s charges hit back immediately through Johnson-Holmes, who crashed over – again – from close range and under the sticks.

Harrison, who is one of the best kickers going, was never missing from in front as the Tahs re-established their seven-point lead.

Walton combined with Hooper, whose well-timed run and deft pass, put the centre away to dot down under the posts moments later.

Harrison, having the easiest day from the tee, landed his fifth kick of the night as the Tahs edged 17-31 ahead going into the last quarter.

A mistake from Harrison, who failed to find touch with his penalty-kick, saw Reece Hodge keep the ball in play, and the Rebels counter-attack from deep.

They sent the ball through the hands before To’omua sent Koroibete away in the corner, his momentum carrying him over under pressure from Hooper.

To’omua slotted the touchline kick to reduce the deficit back to seven with 14 minutes remaining.

Jack Maddocks thought he had scored soon afterwards, but the TMO ruled the fullback, held-up.

Naisarani crashed over to give the Rebels hope; however, To’omua missed the conversion that would have made it 31-all.

It did not matter, though, because Hooper’s charge-down was gathered by Harrison, who raced away for a swallow dive score under the posts.

Needless to say, he added the extras.

To’omua kicked a second penalty in the 77th-minute to give his side a glimmer of a shot if they could get their hands on the ball in the dying embers of the contest.

Final Score: Rebels 32 (10) Waratahs 38 (17)


Tries – To’omua, Naisarani (2), Koroibete
Pen – To’omua (2)
Con – To’omua (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Gordon, Dempsey, Johnson-Holmes, Walton, Harrison
Pen – Harrison
Con – Harrison (5)
Drop –
Cards – Hanigan (Yellow, 37′)

Match Officials
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2: Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie



15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt Toomua (captain), 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr

Replacements: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Michael Stolberg, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Billy Meakes. 23 Tom Pincus


15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson

Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Angus Bell, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Will Harris, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Nick Malouf

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