MATCH REPORT: Wonderful Waratahs trump the reigning champions

Sat, Mar 2, 2024, 12:32 PM
Waratahs Media
by Waratahs Media

The NSW Waratahs have secured their first win of the season in resounding fashion; defeating reigning champions, the Crusaders, 37-24 at AAMI Park.

NSW was on the back foot early when the Crusaders attacked down the left edge and winger Macca Springer crossed after just two minutes.

But the Waratahs recomposed themselves promptly and their clinical response resulted in them hitting the front following back-to-back penalty goals from flyhalf Tane Edmed.

Unfortunately, NSW suffered a harsh blow when Harry Johnson-Holmes was issued a yellow card in the 16th minute for entering the ruck from the side.

The Crusaders then capitalised on their one-man advantage when winger Sevu Reece strode over down the right-hand flank.

But off the next phase of play following the restart, club stalwart Hugh Sinclair charged down a David Havili kick to put his beloved side back in front. Edmed’s conversion took the Waratahs' lead out to 13-10.

Edmed added another penalty goal before the Crusaders were issued a yellow card of their own, to Dom Gardiner.

This time it was the Tahs who capitalised on their one-man advantage as Edmed sliced through off a line-out win by Fergus Lee-Warner before finding Harry Wilson in support. Edmed’s conversion rounded out a brilliant first half by the playmaker and took the Tahs lead out to 23-10 at the break.

The Crusaders started the second stanza strongly and clawed their way back to within six points when Reece scooted over for his second try; making the most on the momentum gained from a bustling run prior by outside centre Levi Aumua.

But the Waratahs again rallied.

Following a break by skipper Jake Gordon, a pinpoint crossfield kick from Edmed saw Triston Reilly cross out wide. Reilly started the second half on the left wing after Dylan Pietsch sustained a nasty poke to the eye during the first half which worsened at the half-time break.

Edmed’s conversion stretched the Tahs advantage out to 30-17.

The dynamic playmaker wasn’t only terrific with boot and ball, but he prevented a near-certain try in the 63rd minute when he raced 50 metres to outsprint Reece and dive on a loose ball in the in-goal area.

His scrum base partner, Gordon, then put the icing on the cake when he scooped up a loose ball and raced 40 metres to score. Edmed’s perfect night with the boot continued as he took the score out to 37-17.

Christian Lio-Willie scored a late consolation try for the Crusaders in the 72nd minute to make the final scoreline 37-24.

“It’s always a great feeling to beat the Crusaders, they’re a great team,” Head Coach Darren Coleman said. “That win was great vindication for all the players and staff that work so hard in this organisation.

Coleman was proud of the entire side’s effort but singled out Edmed for specific praise.

“Tane is such a dedicated and devoted player that you’re just so happy to see him do well. His position requires a lot of control and can be a difficult one to play, but he always puts so much effort in.

“What typified Tane tonight wasn’t anything tactically or technically, but it was his chase back to save that try. He was up against Sevu Reece who will outrun anyone nine times out of ten.

“That effort was just Tane personified. He’s such a gritty, tough competitor.”

Waratahs 37

Tries: Hugh Sinclair, Harry Wilson, Triston Reilly, Jake Gordon

Conversions: 4/4

Penalty Goals: Tane Edmed 3/3

Crusaders 24

Tries: Sevu Reece 2, Macca Springer, Christian Lio-Willie

Conversions: Taha Kemara 2/4