Super W: Waratahs sneak win over Reds but captain warns 'our best yet to come'

Sat, 07/03/2020, 08:08 am
Emma Greenwood
by Emma Greenwood
Waratahs winger Maya Stewart embraces a teammate after scoring a try to put NSW ahead against the Reds. Photo: Getty Images
Waratahs winger Maya Stewart embraces a teammate after scoring a try to put NSW ahead against the Reds. Photo: Getty Images

UPDATE: Waratahs captain Grace Hamilton has warned her team's best is yet to come after NSW hung on for a 13-10 win over the Reds to take a step towards a third consecutive Super W title.

It was the third consecutive match between the great rivals to come down to three points and the third in a row in which the Waratahs have broken Queensland hearts as they hung on with outstanding defensive intensity to maintain their unbeaten record in the competition.

With just one round of fixtures remaining, the unbeaten Waratahs have all but sealed a grand final place with the minor premiers progressing straight to the season decider.

But Hamilton said her young side had not yet hit its straps and it was exciting to think what lay ahead.

🥇 Going the distance. #SuperW #REDWvWARW

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"We've been playing the way we want to play but I don't think we've hit our potential," Hamilton said.

"The growth in the young girls in our team and the potential of those girls, I can't wait to unleash them.

"I don't think we showed much of that today but we've got another two or three games to show people that and I can't wait for those girls to get out there."

NSW was pushed into territory it has rarely visited in three seasons of Super W when the Reds maintained the 7-5 lead they'd held at halftime well into the second term.

Even when they did score, regaining the lead through a Maya Stewart try, Queensland hit back, levelling the scores in the 65th minute and forcing the champions to dig deep.

And Hamilton was pleased with how her team responded to the pressure.

"Credit to my girls, they got out there and did their job and we got those points in the end," she said.

"We could have got a few more, I think if we were a bit more patient in the way we played but we got the win, which was lucky. I have full faith in our team and their ability. We back our defence this year which is something that we've really worked hard on.

"That's how we want to play and we want to play with that solid defence and our tackle count today was testament to that."

Reds captain Lori Cramer was left with a frustrating sense of deja vu but said her side learnt plenty from the loss.

"All season we knew it would be like that, because it has been for the last two years," Cramer said.

"The last two games we played - against WA and the Rebels - we've been trying to be an 80-minute team and that's why. We had our opportunities and we had our chances but on the day we weren't good enough.

"We are good enough but today, we weren't, we didn't take the chances that we needed to but there are still some really promising stuff from our girls out there and we're going to take a lot of confidence from that."

Queensland made some errors, notably at the lineout, conceding several turnovers, but they pushed NSW to a place they have rarely been in Super W history and know they can improve.

"For a team that hasn't ever been beaten, it's really exciting for us girls," Cramer said.

"You come up against this team with a great record and think it's going to be impossible but then, look how close we were and look how well we did.

"We got a lot of learnings out of that, so this is a positive and it's maybe a blessing in disguise that we get to learn now as opposed to later on when it's a bit more heart-wrenching."

The Reds were left to lament what might have been after leading 7-5 at halftime and holding that buffer until the 55th minute when NSW winger Maya Stewart crossed for her team's second try.

Even then, the Reds hit back, levelling the scores at 10-10 through a Lori Cramer penalty conversion in the 65th minute.

The Tahs edged ahead again when Arabella McKenzie slotted a chance three minutes later and somehow held firm despite the Reds throwing everything at them in the final 10 minutes.

The Reds are now likely to have to progress through a preliminary final to set up a third consecutive grand final against their rivals.

The Waratahs scored early through Emily Chancellor after fullback Chloe Leaupepe took the ball to the line and slipped a pass between defenders to give Chancellor a clear run to the line.

After losing her starting spot for the clash against the Brumbies, Chancellor forced her way back into the starting XV and her line on to the Leaupepe pass showed why she is so valuable to the Waratahs.

Queensland hit back just minutes later though, showing great patience to inch forward before Shannon Mato dived over to score after 21 phases.

Mato broke through the line early in the possession and while the Reds could not find their way through on that occasion, their control at the breakdown eventually brought rewards.

Captain Lori Cramer's conversion gave her side a 7-5 lead, a margin they kept at halftime after desperate defence halfted two late Waratahs raids.

Even down a woman after Shanice Parker was sin binned for a high tackle on pint-sized Reds fullback Courtney Hodder, the Waratahs pushed forward, pinching Queensland lineout ball almost at will to set up their own opportunities.

After a scrum penalty 10m out, Ili Batibasaga took a quick tap and put flyhalf Pauline Piliae over the line but she was unable to get the ball down.

Her desperate pass backwards looked to have been cleaned up by the Reds but with referee Reuben Keane's line of sight blocked by the goal posts, the Waratahs were awarded a 5m scrum.

They almost scored too, only to be denied by some desperate defence from Ivania Wong, who made a desperate tackle to ensure her side maintained the lead at halftime.

Queensland had the best of the opening minutes of the first half, winning the ball back from the kick-off after an Averyl Mitchell tackle forced the ball free from the Tahs catcher.

But the Reds were unable to make the most of their chances, the lineout troubles that plagued them int eh first half continuing, while NSW stepped up in defence.

The Waratahs were first to earn an opportunity, with Arabella McKenzie taking a penalty shot from about 35m out on a slight angle but pushing the effort left.

The visitors maintained pressure though and took the lead in the 55th minute when Maya Stewart dived over to score after the Waratahs made the most of a three-on-one chance out wide.

Cramer missed an opportunity to lock the scores up, her penalty attempt hitting the post. But she had no such difficulty with her next shot, levelling the scores at 10-10.

In a tight contest, McKenzie again gave the Waratahs the upper hand when she nailed a penalty conversion from 30m out in the 68th minute.

Hagiga Moseby almost stole the match for Queensland, standing up opposite winger Stewart before being caught and flung into touch by Stewart and McKenzie, with the Waratahs maintaining that defensive intensity for the remainder of the match to seal the win.


Waratahs 13

Tries: Chancellor, Stewart

Pens: McKenzie

Reds 10

Tries: Mato

Cons: Cramer

Pens: Cramer

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