Vodacom Super 14

Waratahs win in Wellington

2009-02-14 10:50
Waratahs' Lote Tuqiri
Wellington - The Waratahs survived a fierce second-half onslaught by the Hurricanes to score a crucial 26-22 away victory in their Vodacom Super 14 rugby match played at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.

In yet another thrilling match of an exhilarating first weekend of Super Rugby action the Waratahs rocketed into 19-0 lead but then had to hang on with grim determination with their backs to the wall in the second half to make the most satisfying of starts to their 2009 campaign.

The Hurricanes took too long to find their stride and paid the price as Australia’s most-fancied side also claimed a bonus point on the road.

Phil Waugh’s men hit the ground running and led 19-0 after just 27 minutes after a trio of sharply-taken tries by Sam Norton-Knight, Lote Tuqiri and Lachlan Turner -- the last after an 80-metre run down the touchline following an ill-conceived grubber by Ma’a Nonu but which might have started with the flying wing knocking the ball on.

However, if there had been a mistake it was missed by referee Stuart Dickinson, and the Waratahs had the cushion that would insulate them against the Hurricanes’ fight-back.

The ‘Canes young flyhalf Dan Kirkpatrick, a late replacement when Piri Weepu cried off because of an injury, got the home-side moving with their first try in the 35th minute and the next two scores also went to Rodney So’oialo’s men.

Kirkpatrick landed a penalty in the 55th minute and hooker Dane Coles got a debut try when he put the finishing touches to excellent build-up work by Mathewson and Ellison.

Kirkpatrick’s conversion pulled the ‘Canes up to 15-19 and it seemed they just might get out of jail.

The Waratahs were battling to get their hands on the ball and were pinned in their own half but they had the will to produce one more telling movement to clinch the win.

A well-weighted cross-kick by Kurtley Beale found Lachie Turner on the right and the wing came in-field to collect the ball before flicking it up to the hugely exciting Rob Horne, looping around, to send him sprinting in at the corner.

Beale landed the difficult conversion to take the Waratahs out to 26-15 with ten minutes to play, having not scored a point since the 27th minute, and that seem to be it for a sloppy and lethargic Hurricanes team.

But the ‘Tahs were about to be shocked rigid as Jeremy Thrush broke away from the kick-off and charged upfield before feeding Rico Gear who ran in the quickest of ripostes. Kirkpatrick nailed the conversion and at 22-26 the Wellington faithful were finally raising the volume in the “Cake Tin.”

But the ‘Tahs had defended with great commitment and they managed to keep the lid on for the crucial last few minutes to ensure a win that should gain in value as the season unfolds -- two kicks by Kirkpatrick, a conversion and a penalty, that bounced back off the uprights showing just how small the margins are in the Super 14.


Hurricanes (5) 22: Tries by Dan Kirkpatrick (35 min), Dane Coles (67 min), Rico Gear (71). Kirkpatrick kicked two conversions and a penalty.

Waratahs (19) 26: Tries by Sam Norton-Knight (9 min), Lote Tuqiri (22 min), Lachie Turner (27 min), Rob Turner (70 min). Kurtley Beale kicked three conversions.



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