Following a turbulent week off the field for the Waratahs, tonight’s game looms as an opportunity to show their fans they are listening and put on a great night of entertainment. Tah Man’s entry did not disappoint – riding in on a horse to the tune from “The man from snowy river”.
The Tahs received the kickoff and won a penalty at the first ruck. Kurtley set up a lineout in the Lions half from which TPN found the mark and Chris Alcock broke the advantage line with a strong midfield run. Quick ball out to the wing saw Lachie Turner break the line and set up a nice inside pass to Kurtley who raced over the line at the 90 second point. 5-0 to the Tahs and a great start for the home team.
From the restart the Lions won a penalty on half way and opted to set up a lineout. The Waratahs forwards were penalised four times for offside transgressions, the Lions showing positive intent and opting to set up a lineout on each occasion. Just metres from their try line the Waratahs absorbed 20+ phases of close attacks by the Lions’ pigs, with Tom Carter eventually forcing a knock on and wining a scrum feed.
Shortly after Lionel Mapoe copped an elbow in the head and was removed on a stretcher, the Tahs found a four man overlap only for Berrick’s pass to go in front of Tom Carter as the referee called advantage over.
The Lions found quick ball worked well for them and motored down the field into the Waratahs 22. This time Butch James put a clever grubber kick in behind Tom Carter who was beaten in a footrace by Jaco Taute (15). After TMO referral a try was awarded to the Lions – 5 all.
22 minutes into the game the Waratahs were again attacking the Lions’ line, quick ball out to the wing saw Soseni Anesi in for his first ever Waratahs try.
Shortly after the restart Sekope Kepu found himself in space and made a bustling 15 metre break up the middle of the field. There was much cheer in the crowd – everyone loves to see a big man running. About this time something snapped for the Lions and both touch judges alerted the referee they had incidents to report. Advantage was played and Berrick chipped over the line to Kurtley who shifted it wide to Ryan Cross to score. Kurtley converts, 17-5.
Coming back to the assistant referees, those flags were for Joshua Strauss (8) tackling a Tah without the ball, and Deon van Rensburg (11) kneeing Dean Mumm in the head. Referee initially thought red card, but was talked down to yellow by the assistant.
Down to 14 men, the Lions started to shift the ball wide and made solid inroads into the Waratahs 22. After a sustained period of pressure the referee judged the Lions to have not released the ball, allowing a relieving penalty to get the Tahs back on attack in the Lions’ half. From the lineout a Luke Burgess box kick set up Soseni Anesi’s second try, 22 – 5 to the Tahs.
The Lions continued the dirty work with Jano Vermaak (9) being sternly warned for an armless tackle. Soon after a Berrick Barnes grubber kick behind the defence found Tom Kingston scoring the Waratahs’ 5th try.
Approaching half time and the Lions again threatened the Waratah’s line – however solid defence and patience led to a turnover. Going into oranges the Tahs left the field to the unfamiliar sound of a standing ovation.
Half Time: Waratahs 29 (Tries: Beale, Cross, Anesi , Kingston) lead Lions 5 (Try: Taute)
The second half started very loose with the Tahs returning to old habits and lacking composure. Though they generally applied pressure to the Lions, well worked moves tended to end with handling errors. Perhaps the clearest example was at the 60 minute mark when Tatafu Polota-Nau broke the line and set up Ben Mowen to drop the ball and fall over the tryline.
Around 65 minutes Brendan McKibbon and John Ulugia were subbed on, and McKibbon ignited the Tahs backline setting up several raids into Lions territory. Soon after, Berrick copped another head knock and had to leave the field looking very groggy.
Things started to click for the Lions who found a four man overlap and eventually scored through Dylan des Fountaine on the right wing. Elton Jantjies converted a tough sideline chance to bring up what would be the eventual full time score of 29-12.
Full Time: Waratahs 29 (Tries: Beale, Cross, Anesi , Kingston) lead Lions 12 (Try: Taute, des Fountain)
Moses’ MOTM: Ryan Cross