Waratahs win keeps finals hopes alive


31/05/2019





The NSW Waratahs have kept themselves in the race for a spot in the Vodafone Super Rugby finals with a 20-15 win over the Rebels at AAMI Park.

It was a gutsy performance from Daryl Gibson’s side, with the match in the balance right until the full-time siren sounded.

As proceedings got underway it was the Rebels who made their intent known with a dominant rolling maul off the kick-off, allowing them to find good field position and dictate territory early.

A mistake from Will Genia at the lineout gave the Waratahs their first opportunity to get the ball in hand. Lalakai Foketi opened up the play off the scrum with a beautiful ball to Ashley-Cooper, who put Rona into open space on the outside – a neat interchange of passing followed to see the veteran centre open the scoring.

Quade Cooper earned a penalty for the Rebels within kicking range shortly after to get the hosts on the board, but they would be the only points they would manage in the opening half.

The Waratahs found themselves enjoying the lions share of territory mid-way through the half, as an indisciplined Rebels gave away a string of penalties. Foley was sharp in front of goal, knocking over two penalties to see the visitors extend their lead to 10 points.

Possession eventually turned the way of the Rebels, who rolled through plenty of phases on the Waratahs line. It was a period of the game that featured a huge collective effort from the Waratahs in defence with Curtis Rona pulling out one of the plays of the game, putting in a lung-busting run followed by a huge hit on a charging Marika Koroibete to deny a certain try.

The Rebels nabbed their first 5-pointer of the match not long into the second half, as Koroibete, Haylett-Petty and Cooper combined to close the gap for the home side.

Curtis Rona would reinstate the Waratahs lead as an offload from Ashley-Cooper fell to the feet of the flying winger, who poked a kick through the Rebels goal-line defence and dived on the loose ball to make it 18-10.

Koroibete would play a part in the Rebels second try with some smart work from the ruck, laying on a pass for Will Genia to find the tryline untouched – leaving the Waratahs with a 5-point lead with 20 minutes left to play.

The tit-for-tat on the scoreboard would finish there as a tense final 15-minutes unfolded. A resolute Waratahs defence forced the Rebels into mistakes in key moments to hold onto their lead and continue their good record over their Conference rivals.


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