The Waratahs knocked back a whopping nine kickable
penalty shots at goal as they fell 16-14 to the Crusaders in a
scrappy Super Rugby trial at Allianz Stadium.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika stuck with his policy for the
trials of not taking three-pointers as they looked to get
their attack fine-tuned ahead of their Super Rugby opener
against Queensland on Saturday week.
Young five-eighth Ben Volavola had an indifferent night at
the office for the Waratahs but showed glimpses of class and
enough to please Cheika with playmakers Berrick Barnes and
Bernard Foley in doubt for the Reds' clash.
Israel Folau was named man of the match as the star fullback
made the most of his limited opportunities with several line
breaks for the hosts who scored two tries to one.
Folau brought the small crowd to their feet every time he
chimed into the backline and showed enough to suggest he's in
for a big year.
The Waratahs fought back well in the second half after
trailing 13-0 at halftime.
Brendan McKibbin's injection at halfback for Grayson Heart in
the 27th minute was pivotal for the Waratahs with the classy
No.9 giving his side some much-needed direction.
NSW scored their first points of the night when back-rower
Lopeti Timani charged onto a pass from McKibbin close the
line with the big Tongan barging his way over on 60 minutes.
McKibbin slotted the goal from the sideline to make it 13-7.
The Waratahs hit the lead for the first time about seven
minutes later when replacement hooker Luke Holmes scored
after a rolling maul from a lineout close to the Crusaders'
line with Brendan McKibbin kicked the conversion to make it
The Crusaders hit back with a penalty goal to Tom Taylor to
make it 16-14 much to the disapproval of the enthusiastic
The first half of the match which was split into 20 minute
periods didn't reach any great heights with the Crusaders
scoring a try through prop Pa'ea Fununu off a rolling maul
while the other points came from a conversion and penalty
goal to star No.10 Dan Carter while replacement five-eighth
Tom Taylor slotted kicked the first of his two penalties in
the first half.
Although Cheika wasn't pleased with the amount of dropped
ball, overall he was happy with the performance and defended
the choice not to take penalty shots.
"I thought we weren't too bad considering we had about
probably nine or 10 guys in their first game at the start of
the game, so they were blowing like crazy from the start
which I could tell.
"We knew what we were trying to do which is good. I like
that. One of the big things we want to do is be very clear
about how we want to play and just keep playing like that.
"... We want to win but I think you see by the way that we
decided to take penalty kicks for goal that we understand the
balance of what we want to get out of practice matches as
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said the trial was a typical
scrappy affair for this time of the year.
"These pre-season games are all like this. We were pretty
disjointed and pretty messy and for the last two weeks we've
just been doing the same sort of thing. You just try and play
with some structure, try some moves," he said.
"There's some things that need tweaking but nothing major,
everything's in place."
Blackadder was impressed by Folau.
Blackadder confirmed that Carter left the field with a corked
knee but said the injury was nothing serious.