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Waratahs end Crusaders winning streak

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Saturday, March 23, 2019    allblacks.com    Getty Images

In an emotional evening at the Sydney Cricket Ground, both teams linked arms in a joint huddle before kick-off to show solidarity following the terror attacks that hit Christchurch just over a week ago. 

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In the corresponding match between the Waratahs and the Crusaders in 2018, the Waratahs leapt out to a 29-0 lead before going down 31-29 after a stunning fight back from the Crusaders.

The Waratahs knew they would have to start strongly against the defending champions and did just that with two tries in the opening 12 minutes.

The first came all too easy as the hard-running Jed Holloway burst through the Crusaders defence to give the Waratahs the perfect start. A few minutes later, the home side had their second when Bernard Foley hung a high ball high for Israel Folau to snaffle and shift to wing Cameron Clark who had the pace to score.

It was a dream start for the Waratahs, but they only had to look back 12 months to realise that the Crusaders are never out of the game.

They got a stark reminder of the Crusaders ability to punish from set piece when Codie Taylor laid on a no-look inside ball for George Bridge to run in the Crusaders first points.

The tempo remained high in the first half as both teams looked to stretch the ball wide but struggled with handling at times on the slippery surface.

Waratahs centre Adam Ashley-Cooper showed his value at the breakdown by forcing a penalty late in the first half to give Bernard Foley an easy shot at goal.

The second half became a war of attrition as the Waratahs clung onto their 15-7 lead through a mixture of great ball recycling and lion-hearted defence. In the 56th minute, the Crusaders opted for a shot at goal instead of booting the ball deep into Waratahs territory. The decision to go for goal was testament to the Waratahs unrelenting defence.



The flags stayed down as the penalty faded away and the Waratahs worked the ball back into Crusaders territory.

In the 73rd minute, Israel Folau equalled Doug Howlett’s Super Rugby try scoring record of 59 tries.

Following a superb line out drive from the Waratahs, Foley hoisted the ball high where wing Alex Newsome batted the ball back into the arms of Folau for the try.

The try not only created history but also stretched the Waratahs out to a 20-7 lead with time quickly running out on the clock.

The Crusaders did have the final say through a long-range try to impressive young fullback Will Jordan but it wasn’t enough to secure a losing bonus point as the conversion sailed wide.

Next week, the Crusaders face another big challenge against the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.

Scorers:
Waratahs 20 (Jed Holloway, Cam Clark, Israel Folau tries, Bernard Foley con, pen) Crusaders 12 (George Bridge, Will Jordan tries, Brett Cameron con)
HT: 15-7