Tahs win boosts Burgess' Wallabies hopes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tahs win boosts Burgess' Wallabies hopes

By Darren Walton 19/04/2008 08:57:49 PM Comments (0)

In-form Luke Burgess staked his claim for the vacant Wallabies halfback role to help the NSW Waratahs consolidate their position in the Super 14 top four.

Burgess's commanding display in NSW's 26-3 bonus-point victory over the lowly-rated Lions at the Sydney Football Stadium not only lifted the Waratahs to third on the ladder but also thrusted the 23-year-old to the forefront of national selectors' minds following the international retirement of George Gregan.

With the Waratahs clinging to a 5-3 lead midway through the second half of a dour affair, Burgess turned the game with two telling plays in the space of 90 seconds.

First, he opted for a quick tap and fired the final pass for a try to lock Dean Mumm. He then created another five-pointer for hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau after charging down Jannie Boshoff's attempted clearing kick.

Suddenly the Waratahs were out of danger leading 19-3 and on the way to their fourth straight victory - and third in a row since the NSW board announced, somewhat controversially, that it would not be renewing the coaching contract of Ewen McKenzie at the end of the season.

Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh acknowledged that a lesser player might have waited for the captain's decision to shoot for goal, rather than chance his arm with a quick tap at such a crucial stage of the match.

"One of the great things about Luke is he sees opportunities and backs himself," Waugh said.

"It's great to have that confidence out in the field."

McKenzie said it was no coincidence the Waratahs had scored their only two bonus-point triumphs since Burgess gained his promotion to the starting side three weeks ago.

"We brought him into the team because we thought he'd actually improve the performances and he's done that, so there's no surprises there from our point of view," McKenzie said.

"He was involved in the 22 from the start of the year, he earned his (starting) spot and we've been happy to pick him and he's repaid us.

"So I think everybody's happy."

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

Victory would maintain NSW's unbeaten record at home in 2008 before they hit the road for three away games against the Bulls and Stormers in South Africa and the Queensland Reds in Brisbane to complete the minor premiership.

"It would be nice to go on the road with that momentum still on track and building," Waugh said.

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 Waugh dove over in the left-hand corner after a nice double cutout pass from five-eighth Kurtley Beale.

After the quickfire tries to Mumm and Polota-Nau, replacement hooker Adam Freier clinched the bonus point with NSW's fourth try nine minutes from time and left the Lions with nothing to show for their efforts.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news