Sydney -The Waratahs virtually ended Crusaders'
proud playoff run by beating the New Zealanders 32-22 on Saturday in a
pulsating repeat of last year's Super Rugby final.
Taqele Naiyaravoro scored two tries, with fellow winger Rob Horne and
flyhalf Bernard Foley bursting clear for the others as the champions
moved top of the Australian Conference with only three matches
The Sydney-based side sit three points clear of the Brumbies after their ninth win of the campaign.
Crusaders have missed the playoff only three times in 19 years and not
since 2001 but the seven-times champions stand staring at an unusually
early finish to their campaign following a seventh defeat in 13 matches.
trail the Super Rugby leading Hurricanes by 21 points in
ninth place in the overall table and are away at the table toppers next
The Crusaders had burst out the blocks with a try in the
second minute by their own muscular Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo after
Naiyaravoro had fumbled the kick-off.
Naiyaravoro put behind the error to finish a sweeping Waratahs move with a try in the corner five minutes later.
Crusaders looked set for a second try, with Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu
in the sin bin, but flyhalf Colin Slade fumbled a pass with a grateful
Horne scooping up the ball deep in his own half and racing clear to
touch down under the posts.
Slade then departed with a knee injury
as the momentum swung firmly in the favour of the Waratahs in the
lung-busting physical encounter.
The Waratahs added a third try in
the 52nd minute with Israel Folau again providing the final pass for
Naiyaravoro to score in the corner to stretch the lead to 25-8.
But the Crusaders refused to lie down.
Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, on his return to the team, crossed for a
try after Nadolo fortunately fumbled straight to him, then flanker Matt
Todd emerged from the bottom of a rolling maul for their third score.
Carter converted from the touchline to make it 25-22 but McCaw was
crucially sin-binned for side entry at a ruck to leave the Crusaders a
man short for the final 10 minutes.
Foley made the most of the
space to wrap up the win by kicking clear and sliding over for the
bonus-point try in the 77th minute, which he converted to take his
personal haul to 17.
Waratahs - Tries: Taqele Naiyaravoro (2), Rob Horne, Bernard Foley. Conversions: Foley (3). Penalty goals: Foley (2) .
Crusaders - Tries: Nemani Nadolo, Richie McCaw, Matt Todd. Conversions: Dan Carter (2). Penalty goals: Carter.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (RSA)
15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Stephan Hoiles, 5 Dave Dennis (captain), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes: (one to be omitted): 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Tala Gray, 21 Pat McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Peter Betham
15 Tom Taylor, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Israel Dagg, 23 Jone Macilai