Waratahs stun ill-disciplined and error-riddled Crusaders in Sydney
At Leichhardt Oval, Sydney: Waratahs 24 (Dylan Pietsch try 2min, Mark Nawaqanitawase try 11min, penalty try 67min; Tane Edmed 2 con, pen) Crusaders 21 (penalty try 47min, Sione Havili Talitui try 58min, Fletcher Newell try 74min; Fergus Burke con, Simon Hickey con). HT: 17-0
Yellow card: Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco (Waratahs) 47min
Red card: Hamish Dalzell (Crusaders) 67min, Pablo Matera (Crusaders) 68min
Any chance of the Crusaders chasing down the Blues and qualifying for the playoffs as the top-seed likely went up in smoke in Sydney on Saturday night.
The Waratahs pulled off one of the upsets of the season at Leichhardt Oval, handing the shoddy red and blacks a shock 24-21 loss to nab their first win against a Kiwi opponent since 2019 (also Crusaders).
As was the case against the Blues a fortnight ago, ill discipline again doomed the Crusaders, who copped red and yellow cards in the final 13 minutes.
Hamish Dalzell, having survived a shot on a dipping Tane Edmed minutes earlier, was sent off for a high hit on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, while Pablo Matera was sent to the bin for collapsing a maul moments later.
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It followed referee Ben O’Keeffe awarding the Waratahs a penalty try, giving them a 10-point cushion and leaving the Crusaders with a small mountain to climb.
Prop Fletcher Newell smashed his way over the line to cut the deficit to three with six minutes remaining, before the hosts survived a late raid to close out the second win by an Australian side over their Kiwi counterparts this year.
Four years after blowing a 29-0 lead to the Crusaders in Christchurch, this would have felt especially satisfying for the Waratahs, who got the wobbles after taking a 17-0 lead at the break.
As for the Crusaders, a week after making a mountain of mistakes against the Rebels in Melbourne, coach Scott Robertson didn’t get the improved performance he desired.
Ill discipline, unforced errors, clunky attack, and a misfiring lineout, again haunted them as they dropped their third game of the season in a match they rested four All Blacks for, including Richie Mo’unga.
From the moment Waratahs wing Dylan Pietsch galloped over the line in the second minute, it started to reek of the home side’s 20-12 win in Sydney in 2019.
As was the case then, the Crusaders stumbled out of the blocks on Saturday and played as if they’d only met in the sheds prior to kickoff.
Not even seven minutes had ticked over, and they’d dropped two kicks, conceded two penalties, and had a scrum get monstered.
When the usually muted and stone faced Crusaders assistant coach Scott Hansen is shaking his head in the coaching box, you know things are bad.
But kudos must go to the Waratahs, who rattled the red and blacks with their hot start, and were rewarded for repeatedly turning down the sticks in the first half, leading to Mark Nawaqanitawase finishing off a try, setup by a smooth Izaia Perese offload, as they dashed out to a 14-0 lead after 12 minutes.The big moment
Just when it looked like the 13-man Crusaders might sting the Waratahs at the death, Charlie Gamble, a former Crusaders academy member, got over the ball inside his own 22 and was illegally cleaned out.
The red and blacks never got another sniff, and the tears of joy were soon flowing.Match rating
7/10. After the Chiefs, Blues and Highlanders escaped with narrow wins to start round 11, the Waratahs got one over the Kiwis.
A year after winning just two of 25 matches against the New Zealanders, the Aussies have two in two weeks.
Only Moana Pasifika’s win over the Hurricanes tops this when it comes to upsets this season.The big picture
As much as the Waratahs would have enjoyed this, so will the rest of the competition. After all, nobody wants to play the Crusaders in Christchurch in the playoffs.
Speaking of the red and blacks, the fact they’ve all but ticked off their All Blacks rest requirements is about the only good news this week.MVP
Waratahs wing Dylan Pietsch edges a bunch of contenders, including teammates Jed Halloway and Gamble.
Highlighted by his early try, Pietsch outplayed his opposite – All Black Sevu Reece – was sound under the high ball, and made a mockery of David Havili when he stepped him deep in his own half, before dashing into the Crusaders’ half.