The New South Wales Waratahs carved out a dour 12-6 win over spoiling Western Stormers to go joint top of the Super 14 yesterday.
Winger Lachlan Turner scored two tries for the Waratahs in an ugly spectacle, with both sides almost canceling each other out with attritional forwards-dominated rugby.
The home side only locked up the points when substitute Kurtley Beale produced one of the few attacking bright spots of a frustrating contest to set up Turner’s second clinching try four minutes from time.
Beale, playing at fullback, stepped into a gap and kicked ahead for Turner, who toed the ball and won the chase to score to the relief of the home side.
The Waratahs are level on 27 points with New Zealand’s Waikato Chiefs.
“We started well, getting a try early was important, but it was disappointing not to close them out of the game,” Waratahs’ skipper Phil Waugh said.
“The most important thing is we got a win because we have a tough couple of weeks coming up, so it’s important we keep going,” he said.
The desperate Stormers, needing a win to keep alive their playoff hopes, came into the match with high hopes having won on each of their last three visits to Sydney.
But Turner gave the Waratahs a rousing start when he scored his first try in the sixth minute.
Turner eluded the tackles of Gcobani Bobo and Schalk Burger, before chipping ahead and diving on the ball for the try.
Flyhalf Peter Grant kicked a 25th minute penalty to keep the Stormers within touch 7-3 at halftime.
Turner almost scored another try eight minutes after halftime after good leadup work from Tatafu Polota-Nau and Lote Tuqiri, but could not accept a low pass with the line beckoning.
The Stormers conceded penalties for indiscipline in the rucks, but Waratahs’ goalkicker Daniel Halangahu could not make them pay, missing three penalty attempts and Turner another long-range shot.
Grant kicked his second penalty for the South Africans to trail 6-5 after 65 minutes and they threatened to steal all the points before Beale’s moment of improvisation led to Turner’s match-sealing try.
“Defensively, we were very solid and they did well for their two tries off kicks, but we can take a lot of heart out of this performance,” Stormers’ captain Jean de Villiers said. “The Waratahs are a very good defensive unit and we crossed the line a few times, but we couldn’t convert them into tries.”