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Harrison seals Waratahs win over Crusaders in golden point thriller

By AAP
Waratahs' players celebrate teammate Will Harrison kicking a drop goal to win the game during the Super Rugby match between the New South Wales Waratahs and the Crusaders at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on April 12, 2024. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Will Harrison has breathed life into the Waratahs’ ailing Super Rugby Pacific season by scoring a field goal in extra time to seal a 43-40 defeat of the equally desperate Crusaders.

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The lead changed 13 times in a super-charged, sometimes calamitous and incredibly memorable Friday night clash at Allianz Stadium.

Christian Lio-Willie looked to have sealed the game for the Crusaders in the final two minutes of regulation time when he charged over on the short side from a scrum. The visitors were up 40-37 after Rivez Reihana nailed the conversion from the left side of the park.

But just after the restart, Crusaders winger Johnny McNicholl was ruled to have deliberately knocked on, tapping a Waratahs pass to ground just as the hosts were spreading the ball.

McNicholl was shown a yellow card, reducing the Crusaders to 14 players, and giving Harrison the chance to kick for penalty goal.

Match Summary

4
Penalty Goals
3
4
Tries
5
4
Conversions
3
1
Drop Goals
0
119
Carries
127
6
Line Breaks
6
15
Turnovers Lost
13
5
Turnovers Won
6

The back-up fly-half nailed the kick from just inside halfway to send an already classic match into extra time.

Once there, Harrison stepped up with his second clutch play in a matter of minutes, sending the ball over the black dot from the 22 to seal a famous win.

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On the night the Waratahs honoured their champion side of 2014, the win kept the current team’s finals equation solvable.

The NSW side has won only two of eight games to begin the year but can likely scrape into the top eight by claiming three of its final six.

The Crusaders, meanwhile, fell to a 1-6 record with their second loss to the Waratahs this season.

An expansive first half set the tone for the night and Sevu Reece was in everything for the Crusaders.

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The right winger opening the scoring inside a minute after Dylan Pietsch had the ball raked out of his hands from the kick-off.

With his second try, Reece equalled Caleb Ralph on 52 tries, the most any man has scored for the Crusaders, and for good measure set the visitors’ third up by breaking free down the right.

The Waratahs’ best set play of the first half, a driving maul, helped Ned Hanigan to a try of his own and the hosts nearly scored the same way again just before the break.

Referee Nic Berry ruled there had been a hand under the ball as Charlie Gamble burrowed over, meaning the Waratahs had to be content with a 23-22 half-time lead.

The tight margin proved a sign of things to come as Harrison sealed a tight win off his boot.

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D
Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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