New South Wales made its first Super 14 home match of the season a winning one yesterday, while the Canterbury Crusaders won their fourth in a row to join the Waratahs among the tournament's top four.
Playing before 25,619 fans in a rare afternoon game, Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri broke an 11-match try-scoring drought to help the Waratahs to a 31-16 win over South Africa's Sharks.
The Crusaders held Auckland scoreless in the second half to beat the Blues 39-10 at Christchurch.
Later Saturday in South Africa, the Stormers hosted New Zealand's Otago at Cape Town and the Cheetahs played first-place Wellington at Bloemfontein. The Perth, Australia-based Western Force and South Africa's Bulls had weekend byes.
Tuqiri scored one of the Waratahs' three tries but scrambling Sharks defense in the last minutes of the match denied the home side a valuable four-try bonus point.
Center Shaun Berne and replacement forward Stephen Hoiles scored tries for New South Wales while winger Peter Hewat increased the Waratahs' margin with 16 points from two conversions and four penalties.
Springboks fullback Percy Montgomery scored an intercept try for the Sharks, giving him five tries in four matches this season, tying Lome Fa'atau of the Wellington Hurricanes as the competition's leading try scorer.
Montgomery also kicked a penalty, then handed the kicking duties to halfback Ruan Pienaar who converted his try and landed 2 penalties.
"We just couldn't hang onto the ball out there," said Waratahs captain Chris Whitaker. "They had all the possession but when we do hang onto the ball we showed we can score tries. That's something we have to work on."
Mat Rogers took the field as a second-half replacement at flyhalf and made two telling breaks before throwing a careless pass which was intercepted by Montgomery, who ran 60 meters to score.
"The first half was quite good for us,'' said Sharks captain A.J. Venter. "It lapsed a bit in the second half so it's back to the drawing board."
At Christchurch, Richie McCaw scored two tries and Daniel Carter kicked 22 points as the Crusaders stayed perfect after four rounds. Carter kicked conversions of tries by McCaw and replacement Johnny Leo'o and added six penalties.
McCaw scored twice in the last three minutes to increase the Crusaders margin but a four-try bonus point eluded the defending champions. The Crusaders trailed 10-9 at halftime.
"The Blues threw everything at us and got points on us in the first half but the guys kept their composure and we really went up a level to come away with the win," McCaw said.
On Friday, the ACT Brumbies opened the fourth round with a 28-7 win over South Africa's Cats and Waikato easily beat Queensland 35-17, the Reds' fourth loss in a row.