Waratahs squeeze home against Chiefs
February 20, 2009
The Waratahs' Timana Tahu is congratulated by team mate Luke Burgess after scoring his side's try
© Getty Images
The Waratahs extended their imposing Super 14 home record with an 11-7 win over an injury-hit Chiefs tonight to hand them a second frustrating bonus point defeat in as many weeks.
In a messy early season encounter dominated by handling errors and turnovers, the Waratahs made it two from two but weren't nearly as impressive as their bonus point win over the Hurricanes. It was one try apiece, with a penalty and dropped goal from the Waratahs' Kurtley Beale the difference as the Chiefs defended stoutly but had to live off scraps of possession on a warm night at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The visitors made several late bids for the winning try but dropped ball let them down in the dying minutes. They had the misfortune to strike last year's finalists in their opening two matches, having lost 13-19 to the Crusaders a week ago. The heavily-favoured hosts were eyeing a franchise record-equalling eight consecutive wins at home after going through last season unbeaten at the SFS.
The Chiefs won their previous three matches against the Waratahs -- including a last-gasp 28-23 victory here two years ago -- but were badly handicapped by injury. All Blacks Mils Muliaina (back) and Sione Lauaki (hamstring) were joined on the sidelines by fellow international Richard Kahui (hip), who was a late withdrawal to hand Dwayne Sweeney a promotion to No 13.
The Chiefs defied a mountain of Waratahs possession and a backpedalling scrum to lead 7-5 at halftime. The hosts had 75 percent of the ball in the first quarter, but only league convert Timana Tahu's first Super 14 try to show for it. He latched on to a pinpoint crosskick from first five-eighth Beale to score untouched in the corner.
A young Chiefs front row were dominated early on by the all-Wallabies combination of Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polata-Nau and Al Baxter, but the much-vaunted Waratahs backline struggled for cohesion against a willing opposition defence who showed quick linespeed. In a rare Chiefs raid, winger Sitiveni Sivivatu blew a certain try when he fumbled a Stephen Donald grubber, but two minutes later they hit the front after strong counter-rucking and a snipe from halfback Brendon Leonard.
Prop Sona Taumalolo was the beneficiary, diving over one-off a ruck, and Donald's conversion had the Chiefs in front in the 27th minute. Beale's early goalkicking woes helped the Chiefs' cause, missing all three first half attempts.
He finally hit the mark when Chiefs midfielder Callum Bruce was penalised by local referee Stu Dickinson for a marginal high tackle on Rob Horne to give the Waratahs the lead, then added a wobbly dropped goal to make it 11-7 with 20 minutes left.
Both sides struggled to finish off in the final quarter but the Chiefs rarely threatened to pinch a matchwinning try.
Waratahs: Sam Norton-Knight, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Timana Tahu, Lote Tuqiri, Kurtley Beale, Luke Burgess, Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Al Baxter, Dean Mumm, Will Caldwell, Ben Mowen, Phil Waugh (captain), Wycliff Palu
Replacements: Adam Freier, Dan Palmer, Chris Thomson, Scott Fava, Brett Sheehan, Daniel Halangahu, Tom Carter
Chiefs: Mike Delany, Lelia Masaga, Richard Kahui, Callum Bruce, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Brendon Leonard, Sona Taumalolo, Hika Elliot, Ben May, Toby Lynn, Kevin O'Neill, Liam Messam (captain), Tanerau Latimer, Colin Bourke
Replacements: Aled de Malmanche, James McGougan, Craig Clarke, Serge Lilo, Toby Morland, Dwayne Sweeney, James Wilson
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