NSW Waratahs topple Aussie conference leaders the Rebels


By NSW Rugby Media

The NSW Waratahs staged a come from behind victory to topple the Aussie conference leaders the Melbourne Rebels 23-20 at the SCG, to once again reclaim the Weary Dunlop Shield.

Pre-match saw both sides pay tribute to past and current service men and women as part of a special ANZAC Day service.

There was plenty at stake for both sides, but for the Tah's it was their captain Michael Hooper celebrating his 100th game for the NSW Waratahs as well as Jed Holloway marking his 50th cap.

The first half didn't go to plan for the Waratahs, with Rebel's Quade Cooper slotting the first points of the game from 38 metres out, getting visitors on the board early to lead 3-0.

But NSW Waratahs stalwart Adam Ashley-Cooper was quick to reply five minutes later off an inside ball from Jed Holloway to score easily followed by a Bernard Foley conversion to put the Tahs ahead 7-3.

Kurtley Beale and Alex Newsome showed off their running game tonight with powerful line breaks bursting down the sidelines, only to be met with a physical Rebels squad.

Billy Meakes scored the Rebels first try of the night under the posts off a broken play with a conversation from Cooper once again to take the lead. Reece Hodge followed it up with another try to the Rebels under the posts and easy conversion pushing their lead out to 17-7. A penalty kick from 40 metres out by Hodge gave the Rebels a commanding 20-7 lead at the half time break.

Coming into the second half with a clear mission, it was vice-captain Bernard Foley who really helped drive home the win for his side, his impressive form earning him Man of the Match. The Tahs came out firing in their attack early and were unlucky that Harry Johnson-Holmes was held up off a rolling maul and denied a try.

But a successful penalty kick from Foley, followed by a stunning try under the posts after a 50 metre dash, gave the Tahs the lift they needed to put them in the hunt. The conversion Bernard Foley suddenly put the Waratahs in front for the first time in the second half 23-20.

Only three points in front the game was set to go down to the wire, with the Rebels putting up a strong fight right into the dying seconds.

Hodge had an opportunity in the last ten minutes to tie the game off a long range kick close to the half way line, however the ball hit the posts. Sam Talakai was sin binned in the dying minutes of the game, which gave the Waratahs more breathing room to hold their three point lead against 14 men to end the game.

It was a game of two halves and a great NSW Waratahs comeback to put the Tahs in good stead as they now prepare to take on the Sharks at Bankwest Stadium next Saturday night.






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