NSW Waratahs beat Western Force 22-17 in a scrappy Super Rugby Pacific derby at Leichhardt Oval, Sydney.
The NSW Waratahs claimed a second Super Rugby Pacific win of the season, while this defeat leaves the Western Force in the bottom half with only one win from four games.
Both teams scored two tries apiece. However, it was the boot of Will Harrison that made the difference in the proverbial “game of two halves” in western Sydney.
The Waratahs finally won an Australian derby having lost the previous 10 matches going back to Round 9 of Super Rugby AU when they defeated the Melbourne Rebels 38-32.
The home team trailed by seven early before scoring two tries and 22 unanswered points to lead 22-7 at the break.
An error-strewn second half saw both sides botch scoring opportunities with handling mistakes and weak set-piece play as the penalties mounted.
Darren Coleman’s men fell away after the break as the Force kept his side scoreless while scoring 10 late points to earn a losing bonus point.
Ian Prior converted Harry Lloyd’s late try before slotting an 83rd-minute penalty, but it was bittersweet for the visitors.
Waratahs’ forwards dominate the first half despite the early setback, while Harrison’s boot punishes Force
Charlie Gamble and Harrison both dotted down after Manasa Mataele’s ninth minute converted try gave the Western Force an early lead.
The try came with the Perth team’s first venture into the Tahs’ 22, but they never re-entered until after the interval.
Jack Strachan missed a third-minute penalty before the Perth side struck.
Mataele slipped Harry Johnson-Holmes and Izaia Perese’s tackles and beat Jack Grant to the try line. Strachan converted.
It would be Tim Sampson’s side’s only journey into the New South Wales 22 for the rest of the half as they could not get out of their half, or their own way.
Sampson’s men leaked penalties, which allowed Harrison to chip away at the scoreboard.
The 22-year-old fullback kicked four second-quarter penalties; three scrum penalties and when Santiago Medrano and Fergus Lee-Warner were both caught offside.
Gamble crashed over from a powerful driving maul before Harrison edged the Tahs ahead. Three more penalties made it 17-7.
Then Feleti Kaitu’u went off after a totting up process left referee Damon Murphy no choice but to yellow card the Western Force hooker.
Kaitu’u’s 39th-minute yellow only cost his team five points. Harrison dotted down before the hooter, although, he missed the sideline conversion.
Western Force fight back but leave it too late as NSW Waratahs hold on for the slender victory
The card might have cost more. However, NSW opted not to take the points early in the second half.
Instead, they went for scrums and lineouts, but nothing came from them. The Force held strong.
Strachan crossed the line but was held up by several defenders as the Force searched for a way back into the contest.
Both teams had their chances in the third quarter, but could not muster any points.
The visitors, who squandered multiple sustained attacks inside their host’s 22. The home team lost their first-half spark.
The Western Australian’s discipline was terrible, and they kept conceding ruck and scrum penalties, killing their momentum.
Mataele intercepted a stray pass on his 22, but was hauled in by Perese before the opposition’s 22.
The Force did finally get a try with less than seven minutes to play.
It came after a series of pick-and-drives saw Lloyd go under the posts from another series of attacks on the Tahs’ line.
Prior converted to set up a nervy finish.
Carlo Tizzano went off for a dangerous spear tackle on Richard Kahui to give Prior a last-gasp shot at goal for the point: he did not miss.
Final Score: Waratahs 22 (22) Western Force 17 (7)
Tries – Gamble, Harrison
Pen – Harrison (4)
Cards – Tizzano (Yellow, 82′)
Tries – Mataele, Lloyd
Con – Strachan, Prior
Cards – Kaitu’u (Yellow, 39′)
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2: Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie
15 Will Harrison, 14 Dylan Pietsch, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jack Grant, 8 Will Harris, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Jeremy Williams, 4 Jed Holloway (captain), 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Angus Bell
Replacements: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Archer Holz, 19 Geoff Cridge, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Carlo Tizzano, 22 Henry Robertson, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase
15 Jake Strachan, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 9 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 8 Tim Anstee, 7 Ollie Callan, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Jackson Pugh, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Richard Kahui