Rebels no match for Waratahs
Sydney - The Waratahs scored two late tries to keep their finals hopes alive as they beat the Melbourne Rebels 28-9 in a scrappy Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday.
The Waratahs scored three tries and kept their own line intact to close the gap on Australian conference leaders, the Reds, who earlier suffered a two-point loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Despite the 19-point win, the Waratahs struggled to subdue a Melbourne side who were gallant in defence but very limited in attack, with the match in the balance until the last 10 minutes.
"We did a lot of work early and probably didn't get a lot of pay out of it, and I think that might have worn the Rebels out," Waratahs skipper Dean Mumm said.
"It was pleasing for us to stick to a game plan for 80 minutes and get the result in the end."
The Waratahs, who thrashed the Rebels 43-0 in Melbourne's first ever Super Rugby match in round one, had all the possession in the opening stages as they looked to press home their superiority.
They were held out by some resolute Melbourne defence, but the Rebels finally cracked after 12 minutes when hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau crashed over for the opening try.
The Rebels replied with two Julian Huxley penalties before Kurtley Beale made it 10-6 when Rebels scrum half Nick Phipps was penalised for shoulder charging opposite number Luke Burgess.
The match was played in wet conditions with periods of heavy rain, and both sides were unable to make any impression, the Waratahs heading into the halftime break slightly on top.
Huxley gave the Rebels the perfect start to the second period with his third penalty after just two minutes, but Beale restored the four-point advantage when the Rebels were penalised for slowing the ball down close to the line.
Beale kicked his third penalty moments later, giving the home side a handy seven-point break.
Then with the clock winding down the Waratahs finally put the game beyond doubt when lock David Dennis slid over following a bruising driving maul.
Mumm then scored in the last minute to rub salt into the Rebels' wounds.
Melbourne captain Stirling Mortlock conceded his side had lacked penetration.
"Our ball retention was very poor -- we couldn't seem to get any pressure on them in attack," he said.
"As a team we've been finding it hard to gel in attack. I was really happy we've moved forward in defence but unfortunately our attack let us down tonight."
In next weekend's Round 12 action, the Waratahs host the Western Force in Sydney, while the Rebels welcome the Reds to Melbourne.
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Sosene Anesi, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Pat McCutcheon, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Dean Mumm (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Al Baxter, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Tom Kingston
15 Julian Huxley, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mark Gerrard, 12 Stirling Mortlock (captain), 11 Peter Betham, 10 James Hilgendorf, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Rodney Blake
Substitutes: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Hoani Macdonald, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Cooper Vuna, 22 Danny Cipriani