The New South Wales Waratahs mounted a stirring second-half comeback to end their nine-game Super Rugby losing streak with a 31-26 win over the Melbourne Rebels yesterday.
The Rebels had looked on course for a first win over their fellow Australians when Ged Robinson’s try helped them to take a halftime lead in Sydney.
However, Bernard Foley, Michael Hooper and Paddy Ryan scored second-half tries to give the Waratahs their first Super Rugby win since a 30-21 victory over the same opponents in April last year.
Kurtley Beale touched down in the final minute to earn the Rebels a losing bonus point and his fellow Wallabies back James O’Connor converted to complete a personal haul of 16 points.
Brendan McKibbin kicked the homeside’s other 16 points, before limping off with seven minutes left.
The Rebels have lost two of three matches this season, but the Waratahs look to be heading the right way after two games.
Although the Waratahs’ second-half performance suggests they should at least challenge for a place in the end-of-season playoffs, they were unable to gain a foothold in the first half on a rain-lashed pitch.
The Rebels’ breakthrough came after Tatafu Polota-Nau was yellow-carded for repeatedly offending at the breakdown.
BLUES 34, CRUSADERS 15
The Auckland Blues took apart the Canterbury Crusaders in a thumping 34-15 Super Rugby win yesterday, outscoring their illustrious New Zealand rivals by five tries to none at Eden Park.
Steven Luatua touched down before wing Frank Halai scored two tries for the second time in two matches to put the homeside 20-6 ahead against the seven-time champions.
Dan Carter hauled the Crusaders to within five points at the start of the second half with his fifth penalty, but the Blues, who finished bottom of the New Zealand standings last year, stood firm.
Flanker Luke Braid crossed to give the homeside a bonus point, then wing George Moala scorched past four Canterbury defenders with six minutes left to touchdown and put the gloss on the impressive performance.
The Crusaders were extremely rusty after a first-round bye,uncertain under the high ball and — with New Zealand captain Richie McCaw on a six-month sabbatical — uncharacteristically vulnerable at the breakdown.
The Crusaders did improve in the final quarter, but Israel Dagg was denied a crucial try in the left corner before Auckland’s late flurry. The television referee ruling that the All Black wing failed to release the ball in a tackle before crossing.
It was the Blues’ second bonus-point win following a first-round victory in Wellington last week and it firmly places John Kirwin’s side among the contenders for a title they have not won wince 2003.
Weepu was erratic with his kicking, but he laid on Luatua’s opening try, before Halai scored twice in the right-hand corner.
His first try came after the Blues recycled the ball near the left-corner flag and spread it quickly across the line, while his second was down to quick thinking from flyhalf Chris Noakes, who chipped the ball over the top to him.
REDS 18, HURRICANES 12
AFP, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
The Queensland Reds scrambled to an 18-12 Super 15 win over the Wellington Hurricanes after repelling a second-half onslaught in Brisbane yesterday.
The Reds led 18-9 early in the second half, but survived several close shaves as the Hurricanes dominated possession and territory to put the hosts under pressure in the final stages.