Crusaders 20 Waratahs 13CHRISTCHURCH: The Waratahs will not return from New Zealand today as winners over the Crusaders but the grit, courage and daring they showed in a brutal, tight game provided a reassuring sign that they are still legitimate contenders for the title this year.The seven-point loss at least earned the Waratahs a bonus point that could be vital closer to the knock-out rounds. However, it came at a potentially hefty price. Wycliff Palu, the No.8 who had just re-signed with NSW this week, hurt his right knee in a tackle in the 61st minute and was assisted off the field and replaced by Dave Dennis.The Waratahs, led superbly by captain Phil Waugh, scored the first try of the match in the 54th minute, a reward for their intensity after the half-time break, when the score was locked at 6-6.Outside-centre Rob Horne chased a Daniel Halangahu grubber kick from 10 metres out, after NSW had controlled possession for 29 phases, to ground the ball. He then converted to put the Waratahs up 13-9.However, a Dan Carter penalty narrowed the gap to a point, then, in the 67th minute, prop Sekope Kepu – having been on the field for only 10 seconds to replace loosehead Benn Robinson – was penalised in the scrum. Carter’s kick put the Crusaders in front 15-13.The Waratahs showed plenty of courage to keep out the Crusaders until the 76th minute, when halfback Kahn Fotuali’i barged through near the corner to score the last points of the match. Carter missed the conversion and then a penalty kick near full-time that would have denied the Waratahs a bonus point.The game began with the Waratahs producing some enterprising and fast rugby. They maintained that intensity for much of the first half before the Crusaders fought their way back into NSW’s half with their kicking game and snappy busts off turnover ball.While no tries were scored in the first 40 minutes, both sides blew their chances to convert some exciting breaks into five-pointers.The Waratahs’ key blemish was the set-piece. While hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was guilty of some scrappy throws into the lineout, the Waratahs scrum was not having a good time of it either – although Waugh tried telling referee Craig Joubert that the Crusaders pack was sliding up.Waugh was certainly fired up for the game after being confirmed as a starter following a quadriceps concern during the week. He and winger Lachie Turner were instrumental in stopping Richie McCaw scoring a try in the 19th minute, when he crossed the line.Waugh and Turner did exceptionally well to turn over McCaw in the tackle and stop him from grounding the ball. Waugh added to the spectacle by ripping the ball from his arch rival and grounding it to force a 22m dropout.At that point the Crusaders led 3-0 from a Carter penalty in the 15th minute. Daniel Halangahu levelled the scores with his own penalty in the 30th minute.The Crusaders went ahead 6-3 seven minutes later when Carter made up for two more misses by potting an easy shot from 22m. But Fotuali’i was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Berrick Barnes at full pace a minute before the break.Barnes kicked the ensuing penalty to level the scores at half-time.CRUSADERS 20 (Kahn Fotuali’i try Daniel Carter 5 pens) bt NSW WARATAHS 13 (Robert Horne try Daniel Halangahu con Berrick Barnes, Halangahu pens) at AMI Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA).
Nanjing Night Net