Waratahs beat Crusaders in golden point extra time after Super Rugby thriller

SYDNEY (AP) — Will Harrison kicked a dropped goal in the fifth minute of golden point extra time Friday to give the New South Wales Waratahs a 43-40 win over the Crusaders in an extraordinary Super Rugby match which featured 12 lead changes.

Harrison had kicked a penalty after the fulltime siren to level the match at 40-40 after the Crusaders had taken the lead in the 79th minute with a try to replacement backrower Christian Lio-Willie.

The match unquestionably was the best of the season so far, though it was played out between teams which had only two wins between them and were placed 10th and 11th on the championship ladder.

The Waratahs had been on the other side of an extra time result when they lost 39-26 to the Fijian Drua in round five. On Friday they were able to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their win over the Crusaders that clinched their only Super Rugby title.

“It’s a great feeling,” Waratahs captain Jake Gordon said. “I’m especially happy for the crew, for the coaching staff. They’ve been working extra hard in this last period and we’ve been close in a lot of the games but haven’t been lucky at the end.

"It’s special to close out this one tonight.”

Friday’s match began in extraordinary fashion with a try to Crusaders winger Sevu Reece in the first minute. The Waratahs hit back and took the lead with a try to Lachie Swinton, then Reece scored again to put the Crusaders in front, setting the tone for the match.

The lead continued to switch between the teams throughout the first half — seven lead changes in all before halftime when the Waratahs led 23-22.

The second half continued in a similar vein. Riley Hohepa kicked a penalty in the ninth minute which gave the Christchurch-based Crusaders the lead again. Then, with a run of four tries between the 59th and 79th minutes — two to each team — the lead ping-ponged from one side to another.

Finally, Harrison brought the teams level for the first time with the last play in normal time. The Waratahs kicked off but reclaimed possession in extra time and maneuvered into a position from which Harrison kicked the winning dropped goal.

“It hurts,” Crusaders captain Tom Christie said. “We did a lot of good things but we left the door open too many times. It’s a cliche but we left the door open and they slammed it in our face.”

Earlier, William Havili converted his own try in the final minute to lift Moana Pasifika to a 17-14 win over the Queensland Reds who lost scrumhalf Tate McDermott and backrower Fraser McReight to red cards in the second half.

McDermott was shown a yellow card in the 47th minute for a swinging arm in a tackle and McReight was sin-binned in the 59th minute for head contact. Both cards later were upgraded to red.

Friday’s win over the sixth-placed Red marked a startling turnaround for Moana Pasifika who had conceded 175 points in their three previous matches, now have won three matches in a season for the first time.

The match was played in wet and slippery conditions and Moana Pasifika led 10-0 at halftime with a try to former All Blacks winger Julian Savea. The Reds took the lead with tries to prop Peni Ravai and winger Jordan Petaia before Havili’s late match-winner.


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