Tahs edge willing Highlanders
Fri, 14 Feb 2014 13:02
Defence wins the day
The Waratahs edged a willing Highlanders team 19-16 in a torrid Super Rugby pre-season match in Newcastle on Friday.
The Highlanders took a narrow one-point (13-12) lead into the half-time break, but after holding onto a mountain of possession the Tahs came out victors by scoring the only try of the second half.
The Highlanders replied with a penalty to close the gap and came close to snatching a win at the death, but the home side held on grimly.
The Highlanders will look to their great workrate on defence and at the breakdown, where they secured numerous turnovers, as the positives.
Their scrum was also dominant, but a string of penalties disrupted any hope of building momentum.
The line-out and ball handling will require work.
On the flipside, the Waratahs will be concerned that they did not win by a bigger margin, given the mountain of possession.
Lima Sopoaga opened the scoring with a penalty, before left wing Peter Betham crossed the line in the wake of a surfeit of possession.
Another penalty, which Sopoaga converted, saw the visitors regain the lead, but Michael Hooper scored for the Waratahs after the Highlanders messed up a kick-receipt. The conversion, by Brendan McKibbin, made it 12-6.
Tom Franklin snatched a stray pass to score the Highlanders' only try - after the Tahs tried to run it from their own line. Sopoaga's conversion made it 13-12 - which was also the half-time score.
Flyhalf Bernard Foley put the home side into the lead, when he went over from a line-out and converted his own try - 19-13.
The Highlanders, following a scrum penalty, saw the gap being narrowed to 16-19, with Ben Smith slotting the kick.
However, the Waratahs hung on grimly for the win.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Betham, Hooper, Foley
Cons: McKibbin, Foley
For the Highlanders:
Pens: Sopoaga 2, B Smith
NSW Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Matt Lucas, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Tola Latu, Paddy Ryan, Jacques Potgieter, Stephen Hoiles, Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbin, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Jono Lance, Ben Volavola, Cam Crawford.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kurt Baker, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Shane Christie, 7 John Hardie, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements - from: Brayden Mitchell, Matias Diaz, Craig Millar, Joe Wheeler, Tom Franklin, TJ Ioane, Lee Allan, Frae Wilson, Hayden Parker, Phil Burleigh, Winston Stanley, Richard Buckman.
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
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