You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Crusaders put Waratahs to the sword

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/04/2017 Darren Walton

The NSW Waratahs say there's no time to mope after the Crusaders compounded their woes with a clinical 41-22 Super Rugby win in Sydney.

The unbeaten competition leaders resisted a spirited second-half fightback from the Waratahs to consign Daryl Gibson's men to a fourth loss from six outings in 2017.

The Waratahs once again paid the price for a sloppy defensive display, missing a staggering 47 tackles at Allianz Stadium.

"You can't win football if you're going to miss that many tackles," Gibson lamented.

Languishing in third-last spot on the ladder, things don't get any easier for the Waratahs, who travel to Wellington next to take on the defending champion Hurricanes on Friday night.

Gibson said the short five-day turnaround might prove a blessing.

"It means we've got to pull ourselves up straight away. We can't afford to be stuck in that game tomorrow," he said.

"We've got to start moving on, moving towards the Hurricanes.

"Of course we'll go through the tape. There'll be some positive play.

"I guess the key thing for us was our execution around our planning. At times we gave the Crusaders a lot of free ball from kicks and that certainly wasn't part of our plan."

The 2014 champions will be sweating on Bernard Foley recovering from his ongoing concussion issues despite 21-year-old Mack Mason making a decent enough debut on Sunday.

Apart from a couple of wayward passes, Mason stood up to the Crusaders while forming a greenhorn halves pairing with two-game rookie Jake Gordon, the Tahs' standout performer.

But a Jona Lomu-like second-half try to destructive winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, after replacing Reece Robinson, was the undoubted highlight on a gloomy afternoon for the Waratahs.

Naiyaravoro ran straight over the top of George Bridge, then bumped off two more defenders en route to the line in the 53rd minute to pull the Waratahs back within seven points of the Crusaders.

NSW fans had every right to believe another miracle comeback win like last week's against the Melbourne Rebels was in the offing and Gibson said he'd consider starting Naiyaravoro against the titleholders on Friday.

"Tangele came on, he got us back in the game," Gibson said.

"The momentum really swung at that point and that's the disappointing thing, that we failed to capitalise on it."

Captain Michael Hooper rued giving the Crusaders a 12-0 start through soft tries to winger Bridge and fullback David Havili inside the the opening 15 minutes.

Hooper briefly reduced the deficit to five with a try in the 23rd minute, only for the Crusaders to reply with a brilliant counter-attacking effort finished off by centre Tim Bateman.

Trailing 19-10 at halftime, the Waratahs needed to score first after the break.

Instead Bateman brushed off Robinson almost immediately upon the resumption to increase the Crusaders' lead to 16 points.

A superb try to Gordon, then Naiyavavora's stunner gave the Tahs hope, only for the Crusaders to strike twice late to deny the home side and secure a bonus point.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon