Sun, Mar 07, 2004 - Page 24 News List

New South Wales hits on all cylinders


South African Bulls Derick Hougaard, front, tackles New Zealand Highlanders Tony Brown during their match in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday. The game ended in a draw.


New South Wales made it three consecutive wins with bonus points while the defending champion Auckland Blues were upset by Waikato in Super 12 rugby union matches Friday.

Also, the Bulls rallied in heavy rain at their Pretoria base to draw the Otago Highlanders 16-16 on a converted try with three minutes left.

Mat Rogers scored two tries and had 26 points overall to lead New South Wales to a 46-10 win over South Africa's Cats. The Waratahs built a 31-point lead -- 34-3 -- at halftime and had the bonus point in hand, scoring four tries in the opening 40 minutes.

On the downside, Rogers injured his left ankle when he landed awkwardly in a tackle just before fulltime, and had to be carried from the field.

But the Australian international was cleared of serious injury and joined the squad embarking Saturday for Africa and a four-game road trip.

At Auckland, Sione Lauaki scored an injury-time try to give the Chiefs a stunning 27-20 win over the Blues, dropping the Blues to 1-2 on the season.

Rogers, who also kicked five conversions and two penalties, was one of the first-half tryscorers along with center Nathan Grey, flanker Phil Waugh and skipper Chris Whitaker.

The Cats missed 40 tackles in their 68-28 loss to the ACT Brumbies last week and Friday's effort didn't show much improvement against the Waratahs.

Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie said he was happy with the Waratahs' position on the standings, but wasn't getting carried away with the good start.

"I don't think we're playing football that will win us anything at the end of the season," he said.

Lauaki scored on a 30m solo run from broken play with the final whistle pending, to spur underdog Waikato to its first win over the Blues since 2001.


* New South Wales 46 (Mat Rogers 2, Nathan Grey, Phil Waugh, Chris Whitaker, Lote Tuqiri tries; Rogers 5 conversions, 2 penalties)

* Cats 10 (Pietie Ferreira try; Andre Pretorius conversion, penalty)

Only moments before Lauaki's match-winning try, All Black wing Ben Atiga had kicked his first penalty from three attempts to tie the score at 20-20.

David Hill, who kicked five of six attempts at goal, put the Chiefs in front with a first-minute penalty and they led 17-10 at halftime after tries to Keith Lowen and Michael Collins.

The Blues tied it 17-17 with the second of two tries to All Black wing Doug Howlett. The Chiefs edged away with Hill's second penalty, and led 20-17 for 15 minutes, until Atiga locked the scores again in sight of fulltime.

The win was a triumph for the Chiefs' rousing forward play, their ability to gain and retain possession, and their firm belief that they were the equals of the Blues.

"If you don't have belief you don't have anything," said Chiefs captain Tom Willis. "We're just stoked to come here and have a win against arguably the best team in the competition."

The Otago Highlanders' superb defense just failed to earn them an eighth successive victory against the Bulls, when the South Africans snatched a late draw.

The visiting Highlanders led 16-9 with three minutes to go until a missed clearing kick was used by the Bulls to counterattack. Replacement fullback Willem de Waal jinked into the Highlanders' 22, and center Ettienne Botha sliced through the stretched cover defense for the try. De Waal converted to level the score.

In Saturday's other third-round games, the ACT Brumbies host South Africa's Sharks, the Queensland Reds meet the winless Canterbury Crusaders, and the Cape Town-based Stormers attempt to remain unbeaten against the Wellington Hurricanes.

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