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By Waratahs Rugby Media Unit
HSBC Waratahs 14 – 16 Crusaders
Super Rugby trial match
The HSBC Waratahs will go into next week’s Super Rugby opener against the Reds with a good hit out under their belts, after a tough final trial match against the Crusaders.
Led for the first time by new skipper Dave Dennis, the Aussies outscored their New Zealand counterparts by two tries to one before eventually losing out 14-16 to a late Tom Taylor penalty.
With the majority of NSW’s 12 Wallabies playing their first game of the season, coach Michael Cheika admitted there was plenty of room for improvement but said he was happy with the team’s overall performance.
“For a lot of players it was their first run out for the season, they were blowing pretty hard early!
“But the things I wanted to see in the background were getting there, you could see the team starting to get there in the second half, playing with the new shape. A lot of the things we want to work on were in there.
“We were very clear today about how we want to play and that’s really important. We showed we could shake it up with attack and I think we showed some good defensive parts as well to restrict a team like the Crusaders to just the one driving maul try.”
Photo: Man of the Match - Israel Folau
Despite limited possession, the Crusaders got out to a 10-0 lead, thanks to a Dan Carter penalty and a close-range converted try from prop Pa’ea Fanunu, scored with 24 minutes on the clock.
Enjoying plenty of ball, the HSBC Waratahs’ backline showed some nice touches, with winger Tom Kingston and fullback Israel Folau, voted Man of the Match, looking dangerous on the run.
And with the new combinations starting to gel, NSW’s first scoring chance came on quarter time thanks to a nice blindside break from Drew Mitchell, a blood replacement for Kingston, set up by a driven lineout.
Although they failed to find the tryline, the HSBC Waratahs managed to successfully contain the Crusaders’ midfield, who created just one real scoring chance through a break from fullback Israel Dagg, who was hauled down 10m short by speedster Kingston.
Photo: Winger Tom Kingston was another standout
A Taylor penalty gave the visitors a 13-0 lead at the break but the home side started the second period strongly, threatening the Crusaders’ line on several occasions, with big runners Wycliff Palu and Sita Timani among a number to make good yards.
It took 20 minutes before they finally found a way through, with Lopeti Timani battering his way over in the right hand corner. Brendan McKibbin’s conversion closed the gap to six points before a second converted try, this time from replacement prop Paddy Ryan, put the home side ahead for the first time after 68 minutes.
With eight minutes remaining, a second Taylor sealed the victory for the Crusaders but captain Dennis was full of praise for the team after the match.
“We feel good and we’re enjoying playing. There was a bit of general fatigue near the end, but that’s to be expected and we should be alright for the Reds. The last pass let us down but we got two good tries which was positive.
“We’ll carry that momentum on. We’ve got a bit of a longer layoff now before the Reds but that break gives us a bit longer to work on the things we have to work on.”
After a bye this weekend in round 1, the HSBC Waratahs will now play the Reds next Saturday in Brisbane, before hosting the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday, March 1.
Crusaders 16 (tries: Fanunu; cons: Carter; pens: Carter, Taylor 2) d HSBC Waratahs 14 (tries: L Timani, Ryan; cons: McKibbin 2)
Half-time: HSBC Waratahs 0 - 13 Crusaders
HSBC Waratahs: 15. Israel Folau (Unattached), 14. Lachie Turner (Eastwood), 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs), 12. Tom Carter (Sydney University), 11. Tom Kingston (Sydney University), 10. Ben Volavola (Southern Districts), 9. Grayson Hart (Southern Districts), 8. Wycliff Palu (Manly), 7. David Hickey (Sydney University), 6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain), 5. Mitchell Chapman (Unattached), 4. Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts), 3. Sekope Kepu (Randwick), 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta), 1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
Replacements: 16. Luke Holmes (Warringah), 17. John Ulugia (Southern Districts), 18. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University), 19. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University), 20. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs), 21. James Hilgendorf (Eastwood), 22. Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs), 23. Michael Hodge (Sydney University), 24. Drew Mitchell (Balmain), 25. Michael Hooper (Manly), 26. Jed Holloway (Southern Districts), 27. Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts), 28. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts), 29. Greg Peterson (Manly)
Crusaders: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Ben Funnell, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. George Whitelock, 7. Matt Todd, 8. Kieran Read (captain), 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Daniel Carter, 11. Johnny McNicholl, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Adam Whitelock, 15. Israel Dagg
Replacements: 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Joe Moody, 18. Dominic Bird, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Tom Taylor, 22. Tom Marshall, 23. Telusa Veianu, 24. Shane Christie, 25. Tom Donnelly, 26. Corey Flynn
Yellow cards: None
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant referees: Ian Smith and Michael Hogan
Man of the match: Israel Folau
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It definitely wasn’t the way the Wallabies wanted it to play out. Bernard Foley has seen it all before. The iceman has scaled the peaks of glory just as he has stared in the face of some of the toughest precipices.