Waratahs let Crusaders slip through their fingers

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs wanted to excite their fans on Sunday afternoon but they barely had the chance to ignite a spark, going down to the Crusaders 41-22.

In Australia’s 11th match against a New Zealand side this season, the fourth of the weekend, the result went in the favour of their Kiwi rivals again and the Crusaders became the first team to win 10 trans-Tasman derbies in a row to continue their unbeaten start to 2017.

The Crusaders never conceded the advantage, and the Waratahs made it easy for them at times, racking up 47 missed tackles.

Trailing by as many as 16 points in the second half, the Waratahs cut the margin to just four points after a steamrolling Taqele Naiyaravoro try but that was as close as they got.

Their missed tackle count was a tally Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson admitted would never lead to a win, but all hope wasn't lost after the match.

"You can’t win football if you’re going to miss that many tackles." Daryl Gibson.

"Bearing in mind, we got ourselves back in the game. At 26-22, we’re right back up in their area putting them under pressure and three key moments, bang, bang, bang.

Game over. We always knew how good the Crusaders were in that last 10 minutes and they ran over the top of us."

The Waratahs started the match at a frenetic pace but it was the Crusaders who drew first blood as winger George Bridge finished off a set play to score his maiden Super Rugby try.

The Crusaders’ second came far too easily, fullback David Havili making the most of a defensive mix-up between Michael Hooper and Tolu Latu off a lineout, to score within four minutes of their first.

Hooper made up for that with a try of his own, finishing off some strong ruck work from Jake Gordon to peg the Waratahs’ deficit to just five points.

The Waratahs fought hard against the Crusaders. Photo; Getty ImagesCrusaders centre Tim Bateman slipped through an exhausted Waratahs defence to score in the 33rd minute, as the Kiwis threatened to break the game open.

The home side hung tough and managed to slot a penalty before the break through Reece Robinson, but Bateman palmed off Robinson on his way to his second try in the 42nd minute as the Crusaders took tyhe high ground.

The Waratahs looked the most like the side they purport to aspire to be when Jake Gordon once again showed his try-scoring potential, collecting a no-look pass from Mack Mason off the lineout and running through a gap himself to score.

Taqele Naiyaravoro ignited the home crowd and the Waratahs’ comeback effort, steamrolling Bridge on the right edge to notch the Waratahs’ third try of the afternoon.

A Mitchell Hunt penalty made it seven points the difference, before tries to Bryn Hall and Ben Funnell sealed the win for the Crusaders.

Rookie Waratahs flyhalf Mack Mason was serviceable on debut without setting the world on fire, but the Waratahs attack for the most part failed to fire.

It wasn’t all positive for the Crusaders, Ryan Crotty coming off before half-time with injury.


Waratahs 22

Tries: Hooper, Gordon, Naiyaravoro

Cons: Robinson 2

Pens: Robinson

Crusaders 41

Tries: Bateman 2, Bridge, Havili, Hall, Funnell

Cons: Hunt 3, McKenzie

Pens: Hunt