Waratahs hang on to finals hopes

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs' season is clinging to life, despite a 34-28 loss to the Blues on Friday night.

The stage wasn’t exactly set in the Waratahs’ favour, with patchy rain plaguing Auckland in the lead up and the only try-fest that came of the match was that in a flurry of penalty tries, with three across both teams.

NSW needed just one point from the match to stay in contention for the Australian conference win and force the Brumbies to match their efforts, and a 72nd minute try to Angus Ta'avao secured that solitary point.

As they await their finals fate, Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said post-match they had only themselves to blame for a precarious situation.

"We just put the pressure our on ourselves, so poorly," he said to SkySports post-match.

 

"We get a really nice try and can’t exit our own area and the teams get the try straight back on us and we’re back to even playing field."

 

"We know we’re capable of really nice things,really nice skills and stuff and to come out and not execute it is disappointing, but there's huge growth to know that we can do it."

NSW showed their attacking intent from the get go and unrelenting pressure from their scrum led to a penalty try after 22 minutes, after four scrum penalties to the Waratahs.

The Blues only took three minutes to answer the Waratahs’ five-pointer, with Patrick Tuipulotu going over in the corner, before Auckland added a penalty try five minutes later to snatch the lead.

A frantic finish to the opening half saw Bernard Foley, Dean Mumm and Israel Folau all fall just short of the try line as the half-time hooter sounded, leaving a mammoth second half task for the visitors.

The Blues edged home on Friday night. Photo: Getty ImagesAnother powerful scrum finish from the Waratahs made it a penalty try double for NSW and three overall, as the Waratahs eked out a narrow lead.

That lasted just six minutes, though, before the Blues answered with a slippery attacking effort from inside centre Piers Francis, who converted his own five-pointer.

Francis stretched the margin in the 57th minute with a Blues penalty shot, as the ascendancy turned the Blues’ way.

The Waratahs picked a crucial time to show off some slick skills, starting from a break by prop Tom Robertson, with Israel Folau finishing in the corner with 19 minutes left.

That was snuffed out just two minutes later by emerging Blues fullback Melani Nanai, who crossed for the Blues’ fourth of the evening.

Ta’avao’s try put the Waratahs just three points down with eight minutes to go and they stayed in losing bonus point contention even after a 77th minute George Moala try.

The Waratahs had a chance after full-time to push for an unlikely try but they couldn't break through for that final score.

A win over the Force tomorrow night will be enough for the Brumbies to qualify for the finals.

BLUES 34

(Tries: Tuipulotu, Penalty, Francis, Nani Cons: Francis 2 Pens: Francis )

WARATAHS 28

(Tries: Penalty 2, Folau, Ta'avao  Cons: Foley 4)

 

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