The Waratahs came out trumps once again over the Blues after winning 39-32 in an entertaining Super 14 spectacle in Sydney .
The Waratahs came out trumps once again over the Blues after seeing off their visitors 39-32 in an entertaining Super 14 spectacle played out in Sydney on Saturday.
It's now been seven years since the Aucklanders last tasted victory at the Sydney Football Stadium, but came excruciatingly close with ten minutes to go until a Lachie Turner intercept ended all hopes of an upset.
Nine tries were produced in this Round Seven thriller, but it was Turner's that counted the most as the Waratahs winger pounced when it looked like the Blues would score, to race 85m unopposed for the match-winner.
From there on it was clinical stuff as the Waratahs closed things out with a minimum of risk and when Daniel Halangahu was able to add an insurance penalty, the hosts' fifth victory of the season was assured.
Both sides preferred to run the ball for the entire 80 minutes instead of relying on the boot and were rewarded with four-try bonus points, although it was the home side who settled in first.
Their continuity in attack and dominance at the breakdown in the early exchanges saw the Waratahs surge into the Blues' danger-zone five times in the first quarter. They finished two of their try-scoring opportunities for a 14-0 lead with barely ten minutes on the clock – a perfect start to the game.
Lock Dean Mumm opened the scoring after handing off a weak tackle attempt from Serge Lilo to dive over from close range and then Halangahu scored after a quick-tap penalty from the Waratahs pivot .
Halangahu, who took over the kicking duties from Berrick Barnes, converted both tries. But Rudi Wulf got the Blues on the board four minutes later when the New Zealanders worked through 13 phases and then gave their wing enough space to work his magic out on the right.
The Waratahs struck again and looked set for a big win after Halangahu bagged a double which took the home side 21-7 in front after just 20 minutes. But the Blues' deadly back-line, led by in-form centre Rene Ranger, clicked into gear to pile on 19 points in a fifteen-minute blitz either side of half-time.
The Blues continuously counter-attacked from deep inside their own territory and exploited poor defence around the breakdown to score two more tries thanks to Isaia Toeava and Ranger.
Blues pivot Stephen Brett converted Ranger's try to send the visitors into the break 21-19 down.
Ranger added his second try, again from an attack that sprung from deep inside their own territory to give the Blues a four-try bonus point and the lead for the first time in the 50th minute.
After Halangahu and opposite number Brett traded penalty goals, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau – exploiting a lapse of concentration by the Blues – then put the Waratahs back on level terms at 29-29 with a try on the hour mark.
But another Brett penalty nudged the Blues ahead, before Turner seized on an errant pass from replacement Taniela Moa and out-paced the defence to save Waratahs blushes and consolidate their position in the Super 14 top four.
Man of the match: Daniel Halangahu not only controlled the game beautifully from fly-half, but also contributed 24 points from a try-scoring double, four conversions and two penalty goals.
Tries: Mumm, Halangahu 2, Polota-Nau, Turner
Cons: Halangahu 4
Pens: Halangahu 2
Tries: Wulf, Toeava, Ranger 2
Cons: Brett 3
Pens: Brett 2
Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Ben Mowen, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Tom Carter, 22 Sosene Anesi.
Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Chris Smylie/Taniela Moa, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Paul Williams.
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Marks (Australia), Angus Gardiner (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)