Waratahs

Waratahs ring the Rotomahana Bell again

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Scrumhalf Brett Sheehan starred as the HSBC Waratahs retained the Rotomahana Challenge with a 24-14 victory over the Crusaders at the Sydney Football Stadium, coming back from an early 14-0 deficit.



Sheehan was one of a host of players who caught the eye of the crowd at the SFS, who braved driving rain for the majority of the match to see the Waratahs take a 2-1 advantage and again ring the Rotomahana Bell.



The Waratahs certainly didn’t have it all their own way, though, and were on the back foot for the first third of the match, with the Crusaders dominating both field position and possession.



It took only seven minutes for All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter to weave his magic, slicing through the Waratahs defence before kicking ahead for two unmarked teammates.



Casey Laulala expertly collected the awkwardly bouncing ball to bring up first points of the match.



The Crusaders remained pushing for the remainder of the first period, and when they came back after quarter time the pressure was rewarded when Carter put Tim Bateman through to touch down under the posts.



At 14-0, the floodgates threatened to open from the Crusaders as well as from above, however the Waratahs period of sustained pressure saw Man of the Match Sheehan cross and put the Waratahs into the main break down by just seven.



The first ten minutes of the second half were all about Kurtley Beale.



First, he nailed an early penalty to reduce the gap to four, then stripped the ball from international back Caleb Ralph in a one-on-one tackle, streaking 35m downfield to score and put the Waratahs in front for the first time in the match, 17-14.



Shortly after, Beale missed the opportunity to extend the lead through a penalty, however in the 58th minute Timana Tahu released Rocky Elsom down the blindside before turning the ball back to Alfi Mafi for the Waratahs’ third try.



Beale converted to take his haul to 14 points, the scoreline to 24-14, and he was immediately rewarded with an early shower by Head Coach Ewen McKenzie.



Both sides continued to attack despite the horrible conditions over the last quarter of the match, however neither side was able to add to the scoreboard.



The plucky comeback saw the Waratahs score 24 unanswered points in just 23 minutes, proving they have the ability to defend stoutly before bouncing back with a combination of individual brilliance and true grit.



The Waratahs finish their trials against the Reds, Brumbies and Crusaders with a 3-0 record, scoring 15 tries to seven and recording a 98-43 for-and-against advantage.



The Waratahs will now look forward to Saturday, 16 February when they return to the Sydney Football Stadium to take on the Hurricanes in the opening round of the 2008 Super 14.



HSBC Waratahs 24


Tries: Brett Sheehan, Kurtley Beale, Alfi Mafi


Cons: Kurtley Beale 3 from 3


Pens: Kurtley Beale 1 from 2



Crusaders 14


Tries: Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman


Cons: Dan Carter 2 from 2



Man of the Match ‘ Brett Sheehan (HSBC Waratahs)



BY THE MINUTE
7th ‘ Casey Laulala try; Daniel Carter conversion. HSBC Waratahs 0 Crusaders 7


23rd ‘ Tim Bateman try; Daniel Carter conversion. HSBC Waratahs 0 Crusaders 14


35th ‘ Brett Sheehan try; Kurtley Beale conversion. HSBC Waratahs 7 Crusaders 14



Half Time: HSBC Waratahs 7 Crusaders 14



43rd ‘ Kurtley Beale penalty goal. HSBC Waratahs 10 Crusaders 14


48th ‘ Kurtley Beale try; Kurtley Beale conversion. HSBC Waratahs 17 Crusaders 14


54th ‘ Kurtley Beale missed penalty attempt.


58th ‘ Alfi Mafi try; Kurtley Beale conversion. HSBC Waratahs 24 Crusaders 14.



Full Time: HSBC Waratahs 24 Crusaders 14


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