Waratahs

Waratahs smash Highlanders and seal top spot

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The Waratahs will finish the season on top of the Super Rugby standings after they beat the Highlanders 44-16 in Sydney on Sunday.

The result is the Sydney-siders’ sixth consecutive victory and their biggest-ever win over the Highlanders. It has also underlined their favourites tag for this year’s Super Rugby title.

The Waratahs outscored the Highlanders by six tries to one in the result that gaurantees them a home Semi-final and an extra week off while the third placed team plays a qualifier.

The Highlanders remain in second place in the New Zealand Conference and had needed the victory to keep the pressure on the Crusaders who they face next week in Christchurch.

The Highlanders can still win the New Zealand Conference but they would need to beat the Crusaders with a bonus point and ensure that the Christchurch side do not take a bonus point from the match.

The Waratahs, who now cannot be caught in the standings, will finish the regular season with a match in Brisbane against the Reds who are second last in the Australian Conference.

The Waratahs led the Highlanders 11-9 at half time having scored one try in the first half. The second half was all the Waratahs as they ran in five tries to the Highlanders one.

“If we want to be serious contenders in the competition our defence is
going to have to be a lot better than it was tonight,” said Highlanders
captain Nasi Manu.

The Waratahs started their second half romp in the second minute after All
Blacks and Highlanders fullback Ben Smith knocked on in front of the posts.

The Waratahs won the scrum and got the ball to Israel Folau with an inside
pass from centre Kurtley Beale and Folau broke through three tackles to score
his 12th try of the season.

The home side followed up with tries from winger Rob Horne, prop Sekope Kepu,
scrumhalf Nick Phipps, lock Jacques Potgeiter and replacement Taqele Naiyaravoro.

The Waratahs victory had its foundations on a team performance with seamless
interaction between the forwards of Kepu, Potgeiter and Wycliff Palu and backs
like Nick Phipps, Foley and Kurtley Beale.

The Waratahs controlled the set pieces and Phipps directed much of the home
side’s play.

If there was a weakness it was flyhalf Bernard Foley’s place kicking as he
missed two conversions but still scored 14 points to surpass Peter Hewat’s season
record of 184 points for the Waratahs back in 2006.

The Waratahs can now afford to field a second string team against the Reds next week as it will have no bearing on their final standing.

Final Score Waratahs’44 (11) Highlanders’16 (9)

Scorers

Waratahs
Tries – R.Horne, I.Folau, S.Kepu, N.Phipps, J.Potgieter, T.Naiyaravoro
Pen – B.Foley 2
Con – B.Foley 4
Drop –
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries – P.Burleigh
Pen – L.Sopoaga 3
Con – H.Parker
Drop –
Cards – A.Smith (13th min yellow)

Match Officials
Referee
: Steve Walsh
Assistant Ref 1: Andrew Lees
Assistant Ref 2: Ed Martin
TMO:George Ayoub

Teams

Waratahs

1. Benn Robinson , 2.Tatafu Polota Nau , 3. Sekope Kepu , 4. Jacques Potgieter , 5. Kane Douglas , 6. Stephen Hoiles , 7. Michael Hooper (c), 8. Wycliff Palu , 9. Nick Phipps , 10. Bernard Foley , 11. Rob Horne , 12. Kurtley Beale , 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper , 14. Alofa Alofa , 15 Israel Folau .

Replacements: 16. Tolu Latu , 17. Paddy Ryan , 18. Jeremy Tilse , 19. Will Skelton , 20. Pat McCutcheon , 21. Mitchell Chapman 22. Brendan McKibbin , 23.Taqele Naiyaravoro .

Highlanders

1 . Kane Hames, 2 . Brayden Mitchell, 3 . Ma’afu Fia, 4 . Tom Franklin , 5 . Joe Wheeler, 6 . Elliot Dixon, 7 . Shane Christie, 8 . Nasi Manu (co.captain) , 9 . Aaron Smith , 10 . Lima Sopoaga , 11 . Patrick Osborne, 12 . Shaun Treeby, 13 . Malakai Fekitoa, 14 . Richard Buckman , 15 . Ben Smith (co.captain)

Replacements : 16 . Ged Robinson, 17 . Matias Diaz, 18 . Chris King, 19 . Josh Bekhuis, 20 . Lee Allan, 21 . Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 . Hayden Parker, 23 . Phil Burleigh

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