Super Rugby Pacific: Waratahs hold on for shock win over ill-disciplined Crusaders

  • 30/04/2022

The Waratahs have held on to earn a memorable 24-21 upset win over the Crusaders in their Super Rugby Pacific showdown in Sydney on Saturday.

After the Waratahs shot out of the gate to earn a staggering 17-0 halftime lead, the Crusaders swung the tide in the second stanza and seemed destined to chase down the Sydneysiders.

But a red card for dangerous contact to Hamish Dalzell from referee Ben O'Keeffe was immediately followed by a penalty try and yellow card to Pablo Matera, reducing the Crusaders to just 13 men for the final 13 minutes of the contest.

Fletcher Newell bulldozed over to bring the Crusaders to within three points with six minutes to play, but the Waratahs were able to close out the contest courtesy of some late indiscretions to spark celebrations across Leichhardt Oval.

The win breaks the Waratahs' 11-game losing streak against NZ sides, and who better to snap it against than the perennial title contenders.

The southerners - who rested a large chunk of their All Blacks contingent - were consistently hampered by timely errors and struggled to put their opponents under pressure, particularly during a lopsided first half.

The hosts got off to the ideal start, with wing Dylan Piestch running a superb line back inside the grain of the Crusaders' defence to go in under the posts in the second minute.

Crusaders players rue another try.
Crusaders players rue another try. Photo credit: Photosport

They extended their lead just eight minutes later, as centre Izaia Perese created space and made a superb one-handed offload under duress for wing Mark Nawaqanitawase to dive over out wide.

The closest the Crusaders came was Tom Christie being held up over the line from a drive, as handling errors and ill-discipline continually let them down.

First-five Tane Edmed banged over a late penalty to send his side into the sheds in complete command of the contest at 17-0.

The Crusaders had to be first to score in the second half and they did exactly that. Attacking from a 5m lineout, their pack rocketed over the chalk and upon review, Waratahs No. 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco was deemed to have entered from the side of the maul to hold the ball up. 

That resulted in a penalty try and a yellow card for Warren-Vosayaco - their first points of the game after 52 minutes of play.

Eight minutes later, Sione Havili Talitui spun out of a tackle at close range to reach out and score, cutting the deficit to three points.

Then came the momentum-shifting stretch for the Waratahs with Dalzell - who had minutes earlier bafflingly escaped any sanction for a high tackle - deservedly shown a red card by O'Keeffe, after hitting Michael Hooper high in a hit that forced the Wallabies veteran from the field. 

From the resulting penalty, the Waratahs rolled a maul from a 5m lineout which O'Keeffe deemed had been pulled down by Matera, blowing up a penalty try and dishing the Argentinian a yellow card to leave the Crusaders two players short for the final stretch.

Newell struck on the back of a David Havili break but it was too little, too late for the Crusaders, as the Waratahs fittingly closed out the game courtesy of a penalty.

They'll look to atone for their efforts against the Force at Perth next Saturday, while the Waratahs back up against Moana Pasifika.

Waratahs 24 (Dylan Pietsch try 2min, Mark Nawaqanitawase try 11min, penalty try 67min; Tane Edmed 2 con, pen) Crusaders 21 (penalty try 47min, Sione Havili Talitui try 58min, Fletcher Newell try 74min; Fergus Burke con, Simon Hickey con). HT: 17-0