Ned Hanigan’s last-minute five-pointer secured the Waratahs a hard-fought 32-27 victory over the Stormers in Sydney on Saturday.
In an entertaining encounter, played at a fast pace, the sides were on level terms for large periods and it looked like the game was set to end as a draw before a lineout error, from the Stormers deep inside their half, was pounced on by the Waratahs and Hanigan rounded off in the right-hand corner in injury time.
As the scoreline suggests this was a tight tussle although the home side eventually outscored the Stormers four tries to three and Bernard Foley finished with a 12-point haul courtesy of four conversions and a penalty.
The match started cautiously with the teams feeling each other out during the opening exchanges.
The Waratahs eventually took the lead courtesy of a Bernard Foley penalty in the 15th minute but the visitors struck back from the restart when, after winning a turnover deep inside the Waratahs’ half, the ball was shifted to Raymond Rhule who did well to throw an inside pass to Steven Kitshoff, who crossed for his first ever Super Rugby try.
SP Marais slotted the conversion but three minutes later, the home side regained the lead when Israel Folau gathered a high ball from under the nose of Damian Willemse before racing away to score his side’s opening try.
The Stormers struck back via a penalty from Willemse in the 22nd minute before the Waratahs were rewarded with their second try on the half-hour mark – Michael Hooper dotting down after a lineout drive close to the visitors’ try-line.
Foley converted which meant his side led 17-10 but the Stormers narrowed the gap when Kobus van Dyk gathered a crossfield kick from Marais before diving over in the right-hand corner and Marais did well to slot the conversion from close to the touchline which meant the teams were deadlocked at 17-17 at half-time.
More to follow…
WARATAHS – 34
Tries: Ned Hanigan (80), Damien Fitzpatrick(43), Michael Hooper(29), Israel Folau (18)
Penalties: Bernard Foley (15,65)
Cons: Bernard Foley (19,30,44,81)
Yellow Card: Rob Simmons (57)
STORMERS – 27
Tries: SP Marais(51), Kobus Van Dyk (36), Steven Kitshoff (15)
Penalties: SP Marais (22,67)
Cons: SP Marais (17,37,52)
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Alex Newsome
Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JC Janse ven Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 George Whitehead, 23 EW Viljoen
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), William Houston (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)