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Remarkable Crusaders comeback sinks Waratahs

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Saturday, May 12, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Australian teams will be wondering what they have to do to beat New Zealand opposition as their losing streak extended to 39 straight matches. 

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After 30 minutes, it looked like the Crusaders were out for the count as the Sydney-siders stormed to a 0-29 lead. The Crusaders were left shell-shocked as the Waratahs big match players stood up to stun the home-side with four tries in a blistering opening quarter.

But it was never going to be that easy to beat the defending champions on their home track. The Crusaders had won their last 13 home games on the trot and have almost seemed to take pleasure in staging big comebacks in recent years. But none were as big as this one.

The foundation for the comeback was laid late in the first half when skipper Sam Whitelock demanded his troops put the pressure back on the Waratahs.

What came was three tries in the final six minutes of the half to close the gap to an ominous 19-29 at the break.

The Crusaders were relentless with ball in hand. Punching runs close to the ruck, constant off-loading and wide passes stretching the Waratahs defence.

The engine room was rewarded with tries to Joe Moody on his return to the side from a long injury lay-off and Codie Taylor before Whitelock rolled the dice with time up on the clock in the first half.



Instead of taking a certain three points at the end of the first half, Whitelock decided to chase another try and it paid off when Tamanivalu burst through the defence of Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale to make it 19-29 at the break.

To compound matters for the Waratahs, halfback Nick Phipps was yellow carded late in the half for constant infringements.

And it was to be ill-discipline that constantly troubled the Waratahs as they conceded 15 penalties to the Crusaders seven and another yellow card in the second half to aid the Crusaders comeback.

It was a relentless wave from the Crusaders in the second half as they racked up phase after phase against a Waratahs side that tried gamely to cling on to its lead.

With wing Taqele Naiyaravoro off the field, the Crusaders made the most of the advantage by putting wing Braydon Ennor over for his first Super Rugby try. A penalty try from a five-metre came shortly after for the Crusaders to take the 31-29 lead and the Waratahs were left to play a frantic game of catch up.

In the 75th minute, Bernard Foley had the chance to take the lead back for the Waratahs but shanked a 45 metre penalty and there was to be no change to the score as the Crusaders defence held firm.

The Crusaders now leapfrog the Hurricanes back to the top of the NZ Conference and head to Auckland to take on the Blues next week. The Waratahs will have another chance to snap New Zealand’s long-standing winning streak over Australian sides when they host the Highlanders next Saturday night in Sydney.

SCORERS:
Crusaders 31 (Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Seta Tamanivalu, Braydon Ennor tries, Richie Mo’unga 2 con, penalty try) Waratahs 29 (Cameron Clark, Israel Folau, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Curtis Rona tries, Bernard Foley pen, 3 con)
HT: 19-29