Waratahs cement top-four position - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waratahs cement top-four position

By Darren Walton 19/04/2008 08:06:01 PM Comments (0)

The NSW Waratahs consolidated their position in the Super 14 top four with a tradesmanlike 26-3 victory over the lowly-rated Lions at the Sydney Football Stadium.

After a scoreless first half, the Waratahs piled on four unanswered tries in the second stanza, including two in 90 seconds, to blow the game open and secure a vital bonus point.

Their fourth straight win, and third in a row since the NSW board announced it would not renew the coaching contract of Ewen McKenzie at the end of the season, elevated the Waratahs above the Hurricanes and Chiefs to third on the ladder.

The Waratahs' round-11 showdown next Saturday night with the second-placed Sharks in Sydney night now looms as potentially decisive in the race for an all-important top-two finals position - and home playoff.

With just one win all season, the Lions are running dead last but, after leading the frontrunning Crusaders at halftime last outing, the South Africans once again proved competitive.

They doggedly kept the Waratahs at bay until the 46th minute when skipper Phil Waugh accepted a nice double cutout pass from five-eighth Kurtley Beale to dive over in the left-hand corner.

Beale missed with his sideline conversion attempt and the Lions edged back to within two points of the Tahs with a penalty goal to Jano Vermaak in the 53rd minute.

But two telling plays in the space of two minutes from man-of-the-match Luke Burgess turned the game.

First, Burgess opted for a quick tap - when Waugh might have opted to shoot for goal after Beale was taken out following his probing chip kick - and cleverly offloaded to flanker Dean Mumm, who beat two defenders to crash over under the posts.

Beale slotted the conversion to make it 12-3 after 57 minutes before Burgess's charge down of Jannie Boshoff's attempted clearing kick led to the Waratahs' third try, to hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, a minute later.

The Waratahs looked safe enough when Beale again added the extras to stretch the lead to 19-3, more than two converted tries ahead.

But replacement hooker Adam Freier put the issue beyond doubt, and clinched the bonus point for NSW, with another try nine minutes from time, which Beale again converted.

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