Waratahs overcome Rebels in thriller

Apr 26 • General News, Super Rugby • 1582 Views • Comments Off on Waratahs overcome Rebels in thriller

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NSW Waratahs 18 – Melbourne Rebels 16 
Asteron Life Super Rugby round 11 – ANZ Stadium, Sydney
 
The NSW Waratahs have retained the Weary Dunlop Shield, overcoming the Melbourne Rebels in a nail-biting ANZAC Day encounter at ANZ Stadium. In torrid autumn conditions the defending champions scored three tries to one, but uncharacteristically poor goal kicking kept the fast-finishing Rebels in the contest right up to the final whistle.
 
THE MATCH
The Rebels defied the slippery conditions early, shifting the ball wide in their own 22 to send winger Sefanaia Naivalu into space down the left. But the Tahs’ defence didn’t panic, denying the visitors and creating momentum of their own.
 
Bernard Foley seized on the opportunity, stabbing a neat grubber kick into the left corner and forcing a lineout five metres out. From there, a textbook rolling maul pushed Michael Hooper over the first try of the game. Foley missed a tricky sideline attempt, and the Tahs held a 5-point lead ten minutes in.
 
Five minutes later, a powerful midfield burst from Tatafu Polota-Nau offered up Foley an easy three-pointer. Minutes later, some slick decoy running from Will Skelton and Israel Folau opened up a gaping hole for Hooper, who fed Adam Ashley-Cooper for the Tahs’ second try.

After leaking 13 points in 10 minutes the bad news kept coming for the Rebels, with backline lynchpin Mike Harris hobbling off to the reserves bench as Foley missed another tricky conversion.
 
Ill-discipline continued to hamper the Victorians and, after seven penalties in the opening 25 minutes, referee Rohan Hoffmann finally lost patience, sin binning Sefanaiai Naivalu for handling the ball in a ruck ten metres out from his own line.
 
But the Tahs couldn’t capitalise on the yellow card, and Naivalu returned to the field without a change in the score line. Instead, it was the visitors who were next on the board, as flyhalf Jack Debreczeni nailed three successive long-range penalty goals either side of half time to bring the Rebels within striking distance.
 
With the visitors breathing down their necks, the Waratahs attack clicked into gear when it counted. Foley and Beale’s long passing game gave Rob Horne just enough room to crash over in the corner for a decisive five-pointer midway through the second half.
 
With five minutes to play, the impressive Debreczeni slipped a deft inside ball to the charging Mitch Inman, who galloped into the danger zone. As the Waratahs scrambled to get back in cover defence, Bryce Hegarty dived into the open corner for the Rebels only try of the night. Debreczeni continued his perfect night with the boot, moving the Rebels within two points and setting up a grandstand finish.
 
But the defending champions held their nerve, resisting ten phases of Rebels attack after the siren to cling onto a well-deserved win.
 
The Waratahs now travel to Canberra for one of their sternest tests of the season, as they take on the conference-leading Brumbies at GIO Stadium on Friday, May 1st at 7:40pm.
                                                                                                                          
NSW Waratahs 18 (tries: Hooper, Ashley-Cooper, Horne; pens: Foley) def Melbourne Rebels 16 (tries: Hegarty; cons: Debreczeni; pens: Debreczeni 3)
 
NSW Waratahs: 1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood), 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta), 3. Sekope Kepu (Randwick), 4. Will Skelton (Sydney University), 5. Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs), 6. Jacques Potgieter (Eastern Suburbs), 7. Michael Hooper (Manly, vice-captain), 8. David Dennis (Sydney University, captain), 9. Nick Phipps (Sydney University), 10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University), 11. Rob Horne (Southern Districts), 12. Kurtley Beale (Randwick), 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs, vice-captain), 14. Peter Betham (Sydney University), 15. Israel Folau (Sydney University).
 
Replacements: 16. Tolu Latu (Sydney University), 17. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University), 18. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University), 19. Wycliff Palu (Manly) 20. Stephen Hoiles (Randwick), 21. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs), 22. Matt Carraro (Randwick), 23. Taqele Naiyaravoro (Parramatta).
 
Melbourne Rebels: 1. Toby Smith, 2. Pat Leafa, 3. Paul Alo-Emile, 4. Cadeyrn Neville, 5. Lopeti Timani, 6. Sean McMahon, 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 9. Nic Stirzaker, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Sefanaia Naivalu, 12. Mitch Inman, 13. Tamati Ellison, 14. Dom Shipperley, 15. Mike Harris.
 
Replacements: 16. Tom Sexton, 17. Cruze Ah Nau, 18. Tim Metcher, 19. Sam Jeffries, 20. Colby Fainga’a, 21. Luke Burgess, 22. Jordy Reid, 23. Bryce Hegarty.
 
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (AUS)
 
Half-time: NSW Waratahs 13 – Melbourne Rebels 3
 
Yellow Cards: Sefanaia Naivalu (28th min)
 
Crowd: 15,807

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