New South Wales Waratahs center Tom Carter scored a hat-trick of tries to lead his side to a 33-7 victory over the Otago Higlanders in their Super Rugby match yesterday.
The bonus point victory moved the Waratahs to 52 points and left them still in contention for the top-six playoffs with one match to play next week against the ACT Brumbies.
The loss for the Highlanders, their third in succession, eliminated them from contention. They play the Auckland Blues next week.
“We got stuck a little bit there after halftime … but to come back and finish the way we did … and get that bonus point was pretty important,” Waratahs captain Phil Waugh said. “We held the Highlanders out … they’re a tough team to play and the guys really hung in there well.”
Fullback Kurtley Beale produced two pieces of counter-attacking genius to set up the Waratahs’ first two tries to Carter and blindside flanker Dave Dennis, who finished off a sweeping 80m move.
The Highlanders, who played to their strengths of recycling the ball through phases, had plenty of opportunities to score in the first half, but only had a converted try to hooker Jason Rutledge as reward for their efforts.
Carter added his second try in the 38th minute, which Beale converted to give the home side a 19-7 lead at the break that did not accurately reflect the closeness of the first half.
Rain stymied any prospect of a spectacle in the second half with the Highlanders dominating -possession and territory, but never really stretching the well-organized Waratahs’ defense.
Carter then ended the Highlanders’ hopes when he scored his third try following a rare raid into the visitors’ territory.
Beale then produced another piece of genius when his cross kick was caught by replacement Josh Holmes, who scored under the posts in the 79th minute and allowed Beale to knock over his fourth conversion of the game.
“We probably didn’t capitalize, we had a lot of field position, but … turned over the ball at some pretty critical times, particularly before halftime,” Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh said.
“We should have scored more points before halftime and if you don’t score points then you can’t build pressure and credit to their defense in the second half,” Mackintosh said.