Berrick Barnes missed a late penalty to deny the Waratahs victory over the Crusaders, with the hosts instead prevailing 23-22 on Friday.
Berrick Barnes missed a late penalty to deny the Waratahs victory over the Crusaders on Friday, with the hosts instead winning 23-22 in Christchurch.
While the Australian franchise's hopes of making the Super Rugby play-offs are not over, this result has seriously dented their knockout aspirations.
Barnes' penalty miss came in the final play from 35 metres out on the angle, seven minutes after Dan Carter had landed a 50 metre effort that put the hosts in front for the first time in the game.
The Crusaders now move provisionally to fourth on the Super Rugby table, keeping the heat on New Zealand's pace-setters the champion Chiefs.
Despite the eventual result, the 'Tahs dominated the opening exchanges and in fact enjoyed over 70 percent of the ball in the opening quarter.
Those 20 minutes reaped rewards too as the Australians were 0-10 to the good after Cam Crawford's impressive try – coming from 17 phases – and also the boot of Brendan McKibbin.
It was apparent that the Crusaders were struggling for a foothold as the hosts looked to close the margin on the Sydney side.
Dan Carter did get the ball rolling off the tee on 25 minutes but when visiting wing Peter Betham, a Tasman player, somehow shrugged off three tacklers en route to the line on the left, the 'Tahs were flying.
That score came following a superb break from in-form openside flanker Michael Hooper, who is now looking set to start versus the British and Irish Lions.
The Crusaders, now 3-15 down, finally crossed the whitewash a minute before the interval following quick thinking from fly-half Carter, who decided to tap a penalty which led to hooker Corey Flynn powering over for an eventual seven points after Carter's extra two from the conversion went over.
Michael Cheika's men came out of the second-half blocks with interest though and were soon over for their third try when Bernard Foley crossed to make it 10-22 on 44 minutes.
But back came the 'Saders via a try from Matt Todd – crossing for five points in successive rounds – before Carter's conversion and then a penalty on 65 minutes made it 20-22.
It has to be said that the decision to replace McKibbin for Matt Lucas before Todd's crossing was a puzzling one as the scrum-half was orchestrating the visitors well from the base.
Carter would compound that call by landing the eventual fatal blow on 73 minutes with his long-range effort before a scrum penalty handed Barnes his big opportunity at the death. Unfortunately for the 'Tahs his kick drifted to the right as they left with a losing bonus-point.
Tries: Flynn, Todd
Con: Carter 2
Pen: Carter 3
Tries: Crawford, Betham, Foley
Con: McKibbin 2
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Jimmy Tupou, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Robbie Fruean, 22 Adam Whitelock.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Dave Dennis, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Pat McCutcheon, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Will Skelton, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Drew Mitchell.
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly, Shane McDermott
Television match official: Glenn Newman