Reds hold out fast-finishing Waratahs for tight win

Fri, May 31, 2024, 11:04 AM
AAP
by AAP
Highlights from the Round 1 clash of Super Rugby Pacific 2024 between the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs

The Queensland Reds have hung on for a 27-26 win over the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.

The visitors looked set to run away with the game when they raced out to a 19-0 lead after 20 minutes.

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In coach Darren Coleman's final game in charge, young half Jack Bowen engineered the comeback, setting up two tries and scoring one himself.

A clutch conversion from the sidelines put the Waratahs in front with seven minutes to go before Tom Lynagh answered back for the Reds.

The Reds then survived several minutes of attack from the Waratahs after the ball to secure a tense win in front of 12,018.

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt was in the stands at Allianz Stadium and might well have put a line through any NSW players he previously had in mind for the upcoming Test season had he left at halftime with the visitors dominating and leading 19-0.

The Waratahs' depleted front-row stocks have been well documented this season, with even former Wallabies prop Paddy Ryan answering and SOS call from outgoing coach Darren Coleman to make a one-off cameo after returning from a stint in Japan.

But the NSW forwards couldn't be blamed for the Reds running rings around the Waratahs backline in a brutal opening 40 minutes for departing stars Izaia Perese, who is off to France, and the NRL-bound Mark Nawaqanitawase.

Tate McDermott's softest of tries in the 18th minute typified the Tahs' woeful season.

With the hosts caught napping like schooboys after conceding a penalty in front of their sticks and expecting the Reds to take a shot at goal, McDermott opted for a quick tap instead and crossed for the easiest try of his career.

His 27th five-pointer also moved the halfback past Samu Kerevi and Scott Higginbottam into third on Queensland's all-time Super Rugby try-scorers' list, behind only Chris Latham (41) and Ben Tune (31).

McDermott's effort followed early tries from classy centre Josh Flook and lock Seru Uru earned the Reds their 19-point lead at the break.

But one last halftime spray from Coleman fired the home side up for a second-half revival.

Not even the Reds' fourth try in the 49th minute to Hunter Paisami could stop the Waratahs from surging to a 26-24 lead with replies from winger Dyland Pietsch, impressive five-eighth Jack Bowen and forwards Jed Holloway and Jay Fono Kalafi.

Alas, the Waratahs' lead lasted but two minutes as a Tom Lynagh penalty goal nudged the visitors back in front.

Bowen, the son of former Waratahs and Wallabies No.10 Scott Bowen, had the chance to steal it but hooked a 79th-minute penalty goal attempt before the Reds defended desperately for more than 20 phases at the death to hold on.

While the Waratahs' season is over, the fifth-placed Reds will head to Hamilton next week to face the fourth-placed Chiefs in a knockout quarter-final.

REDS 27

Tries: Uru, McDermott, Flook, Paisami

Cons: Creighton 2/3, Lynagh 0/1

Pens: Lynagh 1/2

WARATAHS 26

Tries: Holloway, Fonokalafi, Bowen, Pietsch

Cons: Bowen 3/4

Pens: Bowen 0/1

NSW WARATAHS v QUEENSLAND REDS TEAMS

WARATAHS (1-15): Paddy Ryan, Jay Fonokalafi, Tom Ross, Jed Holloway, Miles Amatosero, Lachlan Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Jack Bowen, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton, Triston Reilly, Mark Nawaqanitawase

RESERVES: Ben Sugars, Lewis Ponini, Brad Amituanai, Hugh Sinclair, Fergus Lee-Warner, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed, Izaia Perese

REDS (1-15): Alex Hodgman, Matt Faessler, Zane Nonggor, Connor Vest, Seru Uru, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Joe Brial, Tate McDermott (co-c), Lawson Creighton, Mac Grealy, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Tim Ryan, Jock Campbell

RESERVES: Josh Nasser, Peni Ravai, Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, Ryan Smith, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Tom Lynagh, Taj Annan

Referee: James Doleman

Assistant Referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon

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