Super Rugby

Wondrous Waratahs stun Highlanders

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NSW Waratahs upset the Highlanders 20-32 in a see-sawing Super Rugby Pacific clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.

Tane Edmed scored a late try to wrap up a famous win as the Waratahs beat the Highlanders for the first time in Dunedin since 2008.

The NSW Waratahs had not beaten the Highlanders since 2015, but they had not won in Dunedin in so long, that Forsyth Barr Stadium did not exist.

The Australians looked comfortable at 19-7 up after 49 minutes against the kilted Kiwis.


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New South Wales held a slender four-point lead going into the final quarter of an hour after a second-half Highlanders fight back.

But up stepped Tane Edmed, cool as you like under the Otago lights.

The 21-year-old playmaker (2 pens, 3 cons) kicked two late penalties before slaying the Highlanders with a late goal to seal an unlikely victory across the Tasman.

The young flyhalf also added an assist for Mark Nawaqanitawase’s 32nd-minute try and 12 points from the tee for a haul of 17 match-winning points.

The NSW Waratahs scored 19 unanswered points to take a 19-7 halftime lead

Will Harris, Nawaqanitawase, and Michael Hooper scored before the break to cancel out Josh Dickson’s early try.

Marty Banks came off the bench to replace Sam Gilbert, who was red-carded before the half-hour for a dangerous tackle on Hooper.

Banks knocked over a penalty 10 minutes after the break before Paddy Ryan went to the naughty step for a dangerous cleanout.

Scott Gregory scored with a smart finish near the corner flag making it 19-15 in favour of the Sydney side.

Despite dominating the third quarter, the Otago men could not turn pressure into points.

Darren Coleman’s men only gave up five points while down a player.

Tony Brown’s charges paid for their profligacy, and their ill discipline killed their chances of a comeback win.

Edmed landed two fourth-quarter penalties to give NSW a 25-15 lead going into the final stages.

As the clock ticked down, the Landers imploded. Jeremy Williams went close before Ned Hanigan set up Edmed with a winning score at the death.

Liam Coombes-Fabling scored after the hooter, but it was scant consolation for the dejected home team.

This well-deserved Trans-Tasman victory sees the Waratahs jump ahead of the Queensland Reds on the Super Rugby Pacific table with one round to play.

The Highlanders stay in eighth place on the log after another desperate defeat.

Early Highlanders’ dominance was eroded after Sam Gilbert’s braindead red card saw the Waratahs take a 12-point lead to the shed

The teams were level after 12 minutes with a converted try apiece.

Dickson and Harris both scored under the posts as the teams struck early blows.

Hugh Renton won a turnover and the Highlanders rolled into the opposition’s 22 through 13 phases.

Gilbert and Saula Ma’u went close before Dickson scored under the posts inside three minutes. Gilbert added the extras.

The Waratahs hit back with their first foray into enemy territory despite not getting their driving maul going.

The visitors spread the ball wide to set up an attack under the posts.

It did not take long before Harris danced through Dickson and Gregory to score under the sticks.

Edmed levelled proceedings from in front.

Nawaqanitawase made a one-on-one tackle on Daniel Lienert-Brown before beating the attackers to Gilbert’s grubber.

The momentum swung in favour of Coleman’s team when Gilbert got sent off in the 29th minute for a terrible tip-tackle on Hooper.

Hooper landed on his neck after the flyhalf flipped him past the horizontal.

The Waratahs increase the pace and tempo as the 14-man Highlanders reel under the pressure

New South Wales went through 13 phases after the card before multiple penalties saw the ref speak with Aaron Smith.

The Sydney side struck from the next attack, which was a scrum instead of another lineout.

The Tahs, who have the best scrum success rate in Super Rugby Pacific (95%), scored a well-worked backline move from the solid set-piece.

Jake Gordon combined with Edmed and used decoy runners in the midfield.

The 21-year-old standoff sucked in three defenders before sending a long, floated pass to the unmarked Nawaqanitawase to score in the corner.

Edmed could not convert, but it did not matter as the visitors turned the screw with their newfound momentum.

Brown’s men were reeling as the tourists stretched their defence, but Dylan Pietsch’s break came to nothing when his pass went into touch.

The unrelenting pressure finally told when Hooper struck three minutes before the interval.

The 30-year-old flanker broke through an unguarded ruck and slipped Lienert-Brown’s weak tackle.

Evergreen Hooper raced into the 22 before fending off Connor Garden-Bachop to score his 30th Super Rugby try.

Edmed added the extras as the Australians went into the shed with a two-score advantage.

Paddy Ryan’s yellow card shifted momentum as the Highlanders scored eight points either side of the sin-binning to cut the deficit

Gilbert’s sending off cost 12 points; however, the momentum shifted in favour of the hosts after the break.

Brown’s side had the bulk of the territory (65%) and possession (70%) in the second quarter as the Otago franchise clawed back the score.

Banks kicked a 50th-minute penalty to stop the bleeding. A minute later, Ryan received a yellow card for a dangerous cleanout on Dickson at the ruck.

Gregory finished off a sublime counter-attack before the hour mark after Ben Donaldson’s mistake.

Donaldson misjudged Smith’s speculative box-kick, knocking on for the home team to regain and kick-start the counter from right to left for the try.

The conversion went well wide from Banks, but New South Wales’ lead was now only four points going into the final quarter.

The Highlanders fell away in the final quarter as the Waratahs snuffed out the home team’s fightback thanks to Edmed

With both teams back to a full quota of players, the game evened out.

The Aussies won a kickable penalty but decided to kick for an attacking lineout instead of taking the points.

They botched their lineout, but the Kiwis could not make the Aussies pay.

Banks gave away another kickable goal and this time, the visitors took the points.

Edmed knocked over the 66th-minute penalty kick to make it 22-15.

Williams dropped the ball over the try line after Banks’ leg knocked the ball out of the lock’s hands.

From the following scrum, Hugh Renton conceded a penalty at the breakdown and in front of the poles.

Edmed made no mistake as he re-opened another two-score lead for the tourists.

With time running out – and the hosts out of ideas – the visitors struck the killer blow when Edmed scored and converted.

Commbes-Fabling added a try after the siren.

Final Score: Highlanders 20 (7) Waratahs 32 (19)

Scorers

Highlanders
Tries – Dickson, Gregory, Coombes-Fabling
Pen – Banks
Con – Gilbert
Drop –
Cards – Gilbert (Red, 29′)

NSW Waratahs
Tries – Harris, Nawaqanitawase, Hooper, Edmed
Pen – Edmed (2)
Con – Edmed (3)
Drop –
Cards – Ryan (Yellow, 51′)

Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: 
Angus Mabey
TMO: Chris Hart

Teams

Highlanders: 15 Connor Garden-Bachop, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Josh Timu, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Rory van Vugt, 10 Sam Gilbert, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Hugh Renton, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 James Lentjes, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Sam Caird, 3 Saula Ma’u, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Luca Inch, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Max Hicks, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Liam Coombes-Fabling.

NSW Waratahs: 15 Ben Donaldson, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Will Harris, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Langi Gleeson, 5 Hugh Sinclair, 4 Geoff Cridge, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Te Tera Faulkner.

Replacements:
16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jeremy Williams, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Charlie Gamble, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Jamie Roberts.

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