The Waratahs have produced a monster Super Rugby boilover, defeating 12-time champions the Crusaders 24-21 at Leichhardt Oval
Coming into Saturday night’s match as massive outsiders against the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa champions, the Waratahs, who didn’t win a single game last year, showcased just how legitimate their transformation in 2022 has been.
Two unanswered tries in the opening half, both of which occurred in the opening 15 minutes courtesy of Dylan Pietsch and Mark Nawaqanitawase, steered the Waratahs to a 17-0 lead at the main break.
And while a boilover looked likely early in the second half, things quickly shifted for the home side when Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco was issued a yellow card for illegally holding up George Bower on the line.
A penalty try was awarded to the Crusaders for Warren-Vosayaco’s illegal effort before the competition’s most successful side reduced the margin to three points when Sione Havili found the line at the 59th-minute mark.
But soon after, it all unravelled for the Crusaders.
They were reduced to 13 men when lock Hamish Dalzell was sent off for a high shot on Michael Hooper, while just minutes after that, Argentine import and icon Pablo Matera was sin-binned for collapsing the maul.
A try to Fletcher Newell cut the deficit to just three points with five minutes remaining for the Crusaders, but playing with a man down, the task was too much to overcome.
“I’m stoked. We’ve been working for wins like that for a long time.,” Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon told Stan Sport after the game.
“Really disappointing year for us last year, but like last week, I think the score wasn’t reflective of our performance… but to bounce back like that, Charlie Gamble put in an impressive performance, I’m over the moon.”
Crusaders skipper Codie Taylor conceded his side left themselves with too much work to do after starting slow.
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“They wanted it more. They came out firing, we didn’t start well… they capitalised early and it was hard for us to put points on the board,” Taylor said after the loss.
“We were really trying out there, but when you get behind, leaking penalties and getting red cards, it’s tough. We’ve got a bit to work on.”
Through 10 games this season, the Waratahs now have six wins to their name, while the Crusaders sit on seven.