The NSW Waratahs have run out 38-32 winners over the Melbourne Rebels at Leichhardt Oval, with a now anxious wait over the bye week to see if they’ll qualify for Super Rugby AU finals.
The Rebels were able to secure a losing bonus point in the dying minutes via a Matt Toomua penalty, meaning they only require a victory of four points or more in Round 10 to leapfrog the Waratahs into third position.
It was discipline that gave the Rebels the opening points in Sydney’s Inner West, marching upfield off the back of a string of penalties from kick-off, as Toomua opened the scoring from the tee.
As mentioned across the build-up, the Tahs lived up to their commitment of attacking rugby. A penalty well within Harrison’s range was turned down early on, with a kick to corner into a rolling maul eventually resulting in Jake Gordon snaring the game’s first try.
Jack Dempsey would be next, with Rob Penney’s side showing patience in possession on the Rebels tryline as the backrower slid over for the Tahs second.
The Rebels enjoyed a period of dominance in the latter part of the first half and after several infringements on their try line, Ned Hanigan was sent to the sin bin.
Toomua would soon reap the rewards of that continued possession, crossing the line and quickly converting his own try.
The Rebels would make the most of their numerical advantage at the start of the second half, again camping down in Tahs territory and using the rolling maul to get their way back into it as Naisarani went over.
The Waratahs would respond through Johnson-Holmes just minutes later, as the prop finished off another willing effort from his fellow forwards.
Joey Walton would then double the advantage soon after, as Hooper went to the line and played the Junior Wallaby through with a neat short ball for his first professional try.
Koribete and Naisirani would both cross for the Rebels to draw things level with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Hooper would again be involved in the Tahs final scoring effort – playing a helping hand in another debut try – as Will Harrison crossed after collecting a charge down effort from the tireless backrower.
NSW Waratahs: (1-15) Tom Robertson, Tom Horton, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Jack Dempsey, Jake Gordon, Will Harrison, Alex Newsome, Tepai Moeroa, Joey Walton, James Ramm, Jack Maddocks.
Reserves: (16-23) Robbie Abel, Tetera Faulkner, Angus Bell, Tom Staniforth, Hugh Sinclair, Mitch Short, Ben Donaldson, Nick Malouf.
Tries: J. Gordon 7, J. Dempsey 23, H. Johnson-Holmes 49, J. Walton 56, W. Harrison 74
Conversions: W. Harrison 8, 23, 50, 57, 75
Penalties: W. Harrison 40
Yellow Cards: Philip 65
Rebels: (1-15) Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Jermaine Ainsley, Matt Philip, Trevor Hosea, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin, Isi Naisarani, Frank Lomani, Andrew Deegan, Marika Koroibete, Matt Toomua, Campbell Magnay, Andrew Kellaway, Reece Hodge.
Reserves: (16-23) Efitusi Maafu, Cabous Eloff, Pone Fa'amausili, Michael Stolberg, Richard Hardwick, James Tuttle, Billy Meakes, Tom Pincus.
Tries: M. To'omua 37, I. Naisarani 46, M. Koroibete 62, I. Naisarani 71
Conversions: M. To'omua 39, 47, 64
Penalties: M. To'omua 4, 77
Yellow Cards: Hanigan 35
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant 2: Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie
Match Centre: click here
From the press conference:
"For me it feels a bit like a loss, I haven't got my head around the fact we actually won.
"The boys will get an opportunity to freshen up and we'll get together on Friday ... we're still treading water then, we won't know until Saturday whether we're reviewing or whether we've got another game in the barrel.
"I really hope we do, they're a great bunch of boys and I thought they played bloody well tonight and getting another opportunity would be nice but we'll have to wait and see." – Rob Penney.
3’ | PENALTY Rebels | The hosts get on the board through the boot of Toomua (3-0)
9’ | TRY Tahs | Jake Gordon gets us on the board with a try under the sticks (3-7)
22’ | TRY Tahs | Dempsey crashes through the Rebels goal line defence to give us our second! (3-14)
35’ | SIN BIN Tahs | Ned sees yellow after repeated infringements on our line (3-14)
37’ | TRY Rebels | Toomua goes over for the Rebels (10-14)
40’ | PENALTY Tahs | Harrison makes no mistake as he extends our lead into the break! (10-17)
45’ | TRY Rebels | Naisarani goes over as Toomua levels things up from the tee (17-17)
49’ | TRY Tahs | Johnson-Holmes barges over and we’re back in the lead! (17-24)
55’ | TRY Tahs | Joey Walton! Hoops takes it to the line and puts Walton into space as he slides over under the posts (17-31)
61’ | TRY Rebels | Koroibete goes over in the corner despite some valiant cover defence from the Tahs (24-31)
65’ | SIN BIN Rebels | Philip sent for ten after an infringement at the lineout (24-31)
70’ | TRY Rebels | A double for Naisarani as the Rebels level things up (31-31)
73’ | TRY Tahs | How about that!? A charge down from Hooper lands fortuitously for Harrison who goes over for his first try in Super Rugby (29-38)
76’ | PENALTY Rebels | Toomua knocks one over from a challenging angle (32-38)