The New South Wales Waratahs opened their 2018 Super Rugby season with a last gasp 34-27 victory over South Africa’s Stormers in Sydney.
The two sides traded scores throughout the match as they took turns to trade penalties and tries in both halves of the match and were inseparable right to the end.
An error lineout throw from Dean Muirover in the lineout for the Stormers after the siren gifted the Waratahs the ball and Ned Hanigan seized the opportunity to score a match winning try in the corner.
The Waratahs victory ends a four match winning streak for the Stormers against Australian teams in Australia which started in 2015.
The match looked set to finish in a draw with three converted tries each and two penalties for each side but then came the moment that will haunt the Stormers when they look back and wonder how they let an away draw slip.
How’s that for drama? Ned Hanigan surges over the line in the final play of #WARvSTO to win the match. #SuperRugby never fails to entertain; stick around for two more matches today on SS Action – #LIOvJAG & #BULvHUR pic.twitter.com/RqcIgWAl6L
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) February 24, 2018
The match was a seesawing contest but it wasn’t until the 15th minute that the first points were scored as Bernard Foley kicked a penalty for the home side.
However just after the Waratahs started scoring they made a mess of the restart kick and the Stormers hit back immediately with a try from loose-head prop Steven Kitshoff.
The Waratahs hit back as Israel Folau soared through the air to snatch a high ball from Bernard Foley midfield kick and raced through the Stormers to score the most spectacular try of the contest.
Stormers kicker SP Marais levelled the scores at 10 all with a penalty but then Australian skipper Michael Hooper put the Waratahs back into the lead with a try from a line out rolling maul move.
Next it was the Stormers turn to score as flanker Kobus Van Dyk crossed the line after gathering a chip kick from halfback Dewaldt Duvenage.
Marais slotted the conversion kick from outwide which meant the Stormers and Waratahs were level at the half time break.
The Waratahs got the perfect start to the second half as Damien Fitzpatrick scored out wide. But the Stormers soon hit back as the Waratahs scrum struggled and SP Marais ran around the side and scored.
Things got worse for the Waratahs as former Reds star Rob Simmons was yellow carded on his Tahs debut for taking a player out in the air in the line out. That was Simmons last act in the game.
The Stormers though were unable to take control of the match even though they had a numerical advantage and Foley put the hosts back in front in the 65th minute with a penalty.
Just two minutes later Marais levelled the scores again.
The Waratahs turned down several shots at goal as they looked for a try which would have put them beyond a penalty score but basic errors cost them every time.
As the siren sounded everyone expected the match to end in a draw until the line out overthrow error which gifted the Waratahs the victory.
Next week the Waratahs travel to South Africa where they will take on the Sharks in Durban while the Stormers move to New Zealand where they will play the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Final Score Waratahs 34 (17) Stormers 27 (17)
Tries – I.Folau, M.Hooper, D.Fitzpatrick, N.Hanigan
Pen – B.Foley 2
Con – B.Foley 4
Cards – R.Simmons (57th min yellow)
Tries -S.Kitshoff, K. van Dyk, SP.Marais
Pen – S.P.Marais 2
Con -S.P.Marais 3
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Ref 1:Mike Fraser (New Zealand),
Assistant Ref 2:William Houston (Australia)
TMO : George Ayoub (Australia)
15 Israel Folau, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Alex Newsome.
15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JC Janse ven Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 George Whitehead, 23 EW Viljoen.