Loose forward Wycliff Palu scored a last-minute try to give 14-man New South Wales Waratahs a 30-28 victory over the Queensland Reds in their Super 14 match in Brisbane on Saturday.
The visiting Waratahs were reduced to 14 men when Dean Mumm was sinbinned for a late charge on replacement hooker Saia Faingaa with five minutes remaining but still managed to storm back downfield to snatch the win.
Former Reds player Berrick Barnes, making his first return to Brisbane since his move to New South Wales in the off-season, had kept the Waratahs in the game with four penalties and a drop goal.
Loudly booed by the crowd every time he touched the ball and the subject of some heavy tackles, Barnes was replaced late on by Daniel Halangahu, who slotted a penalty and converted Palu’s try.
“That was far from an impressive performance from our point of view,” Waratahs captain Phil Waugh said in a televised interview. “It was pretty simple the mistakes we were making and we knew how bad we were going.
“We just needed to get back on track and we did that and gutsed it out and in the end I suppose it was a good win.”
The Reds had looked on track for their first Super 14 victory over the Waratahs since 2004 until the late rally from the visitors, sparked by a 74th-minute try from winger Rory Sidey.
Referee Craig Joubert had just awarded the Reds a penalty try after flanker Ben Mowen was ruled to have deliberately knocked the ball out of play as he and Reds scrumhalf Will Genia dived for the loose ball over the tryline.
Former All Blacks flanker Daniel Braid and captain James Horwill also scored tries for the Reds, while flyhalf Quade Cooper added two penalties, two conversions and a drop goal.
The match was marred by an allegation of biting against a Queensland player in the first half, with Joubert ordering New South Wales lock Will Caldwell to show his hand to Horwill.
Caldwell spent time in the blood bin and returned with his right index finger bandaged.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Auckland; Editing by Nick Mulvenney of match report from Reuters]