Vodacom Super 14

Hungry Waratahs edge Blues

2009-03-27 10:14
Waratahs flank Phil Waugh (Gallo Images)
Auckland - The Waratahs defended staunchly in the dying minutes to down the Blues 27-22 in their first ever Super 14 win at Eden Park on Friday.

The efficiency of the Waratahs in every phase outlasted the erratic attacking flair of the Blues and got the Australians' season back on track after two straight losses.

The Blues matched the three tries scored by the Waratahs but their defensive frailty was on show again in a competition where they had scored the most points and conceded the most in the first six rounds.

The win put the Waratahs at the top of the Super 14 table - before the rest of the weekend's games - building on their strong start to the season with four consecutive wins.

"It's a tough place to win - I've been on the wrong end too many times," Waratahs' captain Phil Waugh said of Eden Park afterwards.

"We've still got a lot to work on, but it's a really good win."

The Blues' defensive woes were evident again from the start of the game as the Waratahs applied all the early pressure in the opening 20 minutes.

Their dominance paid dividends after six minutes when flyhalf Daniel Halangahu went over after Blues prop Tevita Mailau missed the crucial tackle.

Halangahu added the conversion and a 13th minute penalty after another Blues defensive error, putting the Australians out to a handy 10-0 lead.

But the Blues hit back with a try of their own against the run of play after 17 minutes, when the ball was spread through the backline to wing Anthony Tuitavake who fended off two tacklers before running 40 metres for the try.

Their fortunes took a knock midway through the spell when All Black lock Ali Williams had to leave the field with a leg injury, although another All Black Anthony Boric was on hand as a replacement.

Waratahs scrumhalf Luke Burgess, a threat all night with ball in hand, capitalised from a botched Blues scrum, intercepting a pass to run 23 metres for a 28th minute try converted by Halangahu.

After going into the break 17-8 down, the Blues returned with renewed purpose, and flank Onasa'i Auva'a burrowed over after 47 minutes.

The Waratahs stretched their buffer to 12 points after a try to hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and another conversion and penalty to Halangahu midway through the spell.

Blues replacement back Michael Hobbs scored after a spell of relentless Blues pressure in the 67th minute but the Waratahs remained solid to safely absorb the pressure in the dying minutes.

The Waratahs picked up four points for their efforts and moved temporarily top of the standings, one point ahead of the Bulls, but having played two extra matches.

The Blues picked up a point for losing by fewer than seven points.

In next weekend's action the Waratahs host the Stormers in Sydney while the Blues have a bye.


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