Waratahs edge past Western Force
March 30, 2013
The Blues' Rene Ranger is upended by the Chiefs' Bundee Aki © Getty Images
The Waratahs held off a fast-finishing Force to ruin former coach Michael Foley's return to Sydney with a hard-fought 23-19 victory at Allianz Stadium.
Referee Steve Walsh's whistle was a constant presence in the first half as Brendan McKibbin kicked five penalty goals to Sias Ebersohn's three to give the hosts a 15-9 lead at the break. McKibbin slotted another penalty goal immediately at the resumption before Adam Ashley-Cooper scored the first try of the contest in his 100th Super Rugby match to make it 23-9 to the hosts.
But the plucky Force hit back with a converted try from full-back Alfie Mafi and cut the deficit to just four points on the hour via Ebersohn's fourth penalty goal. Both sides had their chances in the closing stages but the Force finished the stronger of the two sides and were deep in attack after the final siren before prop Benn Robinson - also playing his 100th game - made a crucial steal. McKibbin, who kicked six goals from eight attempts, kicked the ball into the stands to secure back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
The Chiefs overcame a scrappy first half and a confrontational Blues outfit to secure a hard-fought 23-16 win at Bay Park on Saturday. In his first match against his former club, Gareth Anscombe provided 13 points with the boot and converted tries by Richard Kahui and Ben Tameifuna. However, coach Dave Rennie will be less than pleased with his team's performance and will no doubt have plenty to discuss next week as more than six try-scoring opportunities went begging in the first half alone. The New Zealand conference leaders secured four points that lifted them seven clear of the trailing Hurricanes. Blues coach John Kirwan will mull over the third consecutive game where his men failed to fire.
The Brumbies claimed a dramatic 23-20 victory over the Bulls at Canberra Stadium after Christian Lealiifano kicked a controversial penalty after the siren just moments after the visitors had levelled the score with a converted breakaway try. Bulls captain Pierre Spies remonstrated with referee Jonathon White after he had been penalised for not releasing the ball in a ruck, and television replays showed Brumbies scrum-half Nic White lying over the ball. Lealiifano cared not, however, and landed the goal to send the Brumbies back to the top of the consolidated ladder after they had been overtaken by the Chiefs.
Quade Cooper kicked 14 points and produced plenty from his usual bag of tricks as the Reds achieved their first Super Rugby victory in Dunedin with a thrilling 34-33 win over the Highlanders. The Reds scored ran in four tries through James Hanson, Will Genia, Liam Gill and Jake Schatz to establish a 31-16 lead early in the second half. The Highlanders, for whom Elliot Dixon had already touched down, roared back into contention with tries from All Blacks Hosea Gear and Ma'a Nonu. But Cooper kicked a 70th minute penalty to ensure the Reds held on in front of 12,000 people at Forsyth Barr Stadium. It was the Reds' fifth win from seven games while the hapless Highlanders only received a bonus point as consolation after their fifth consecutive loss.
Late tries from Brad Shields and Alapati Leiua gave the Hurricanes a more flattering scoreline than they deserved as they beat the Southern Kings 46-30. The South African newcomers were a much-improved side from the one thrashed by the Crusaders last week and were right in the contest until late in the game despite the six-tries-to-three scoreline. The Hurricanes led 29-16 at the break after wrapping up the four-try bonus point thanks to tries for Ben May, Conrad Smith, TJ Perenara and Jeremy Thrush. But the second half was a scrappy arm-wrestle and it was not until Brad Shields crossed in the 65th minute that the game swung in the Hurricanes' favour. And, when Alapati Leiua scored his second intercept try in two matches with seven minutes to go, the result was put beyond doubt.
Former champions the Crusaders left South Africa with a 19-14 win over the Stormers in Cape Town. The match was tight from the start and after Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen had opened the scoring with a penalty, the South African's flanker Siya Kolisi scored the first try. Crusaders flanker Matt Todd then replied with a try of his own just over 10 minutes later and fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal kept the New Zealanders out of reach with the conversion and four penalties.
The Cheetahs meanwhile ran in five tries as they defeated the Melbourne Rebels 34-16 to record their fourth win in six matches. The Melbourne side were unable to cope with the physical approach of the Cheetahs pack throughout the 80 minutes and fullback Hennie Daniller grabbed their first try five minutes before half-time. Wings Raymond Rhule and Willie le Roux, centre Johann Sadie and Rayno Benjamin added further scores in the second half, while fly-half Francis Burton kicked three conversions and a penalty. Caderyn Neville scored a late try for the Rebels shortly before the final whistle and while James O'Connor kicked the conversion and three penalties
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