Waratahs steal a late winner
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Waratahs scored a try after the full-time hooter to steal a 32-25 win over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.
Coming back from being down 6-25, the Waratahs scored four unanswered tries in the final half-hour to earn four valuable Super Rugby points in the race for first place in the Australian conference.
The Waratahs looked to be heading for their fourth successive loss to heap further pressure on their coach Daryl Gibson, before their stirring comeback.
"To come back from 6-25 down and the position we were, being one [win] from three [starts], it was a pretty crucial win for us," Gibson said.
"I'm thrilled for the boys because it will give them a great deal of confidence and show them that when we hold the ball and don't make errors and mistakes, we can be a very good football team."
Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley, back in the side after missing five weeks with post-concussion symptoms, led the way for the Waratahs with three conversions and two penalties.
The Rebels, their future beyond this season uncertain amid Super Rugby restructuring, stormed to a 19-point lead by half-time, but lost three players - hooker James Hanson, as well as locks Dom Day and Culum Retallick - to concussion.
Melbourne ran out of legs in the second half with their errors starting to mount and they were reduced to 14 men for the last four minutes when Colby Faingaa was sin-binned.
It was Melbourne's second heartbreaking loss after being overrun by the Chiefs in the last round.
The Waratahs finally found some playing fluency after the interval and 21-year-old lock Ned Hanigan scored to put his side back in the contest.
The margin was further reduced when Reece Robinson beat fellow Rugby League convert Marika Koroibete to score in the corner.
With all the rugby being played in the Rebels' half the Waratahs reaped the rewards in the 77th minute when they elected to take a scrum 10 metres out rather than a penalty with Michael Wells scoring.
Horwitz then capitalised on the numerical superiority by darting through a gap and sealing the Waratahs’ second win of the season.
The Rebels failed to score in the second half and just ran out of firepower.
The desperate loss leaves the Rebels without a win from their four games.
"100 percent, no doubt, it was a wasted opportunity," Rebels coach Tony McGahan said.
"We needed to grab some control. We scrambled and defended as well as we could but we just needed to keep the ball to get ourselves back in the game."
The Waratahs take on New Zealand's Crusaders at home next weekend, while the Rebels are away to the Highlanders.
Man of the match: The stand-out feature of the game - which was littered with errors, penalties and poor decision-making - was the Rebels' determined defensive effort. Even though they fell short in the end, nobody was better than our man of the match, Rebels No.8 Amanaki Mafi.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Hodge 2, English
Cons: Hodge 2
Pens: Hodge 2
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Hanigan, Robinson, Wells, Horwitz
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley 2
Yellow card: Colby Fainga'a (Rebels, 76 - cynical foul, killing the ball)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Jake Schatz, 22 Ben Meehan, 23 Mitch Inman.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Andrew Kellaway, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 David Lolohea, 19 David McDuling, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Cam Clark, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)