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Missed penalty not to blame: Three takeaways from Tahs vs Highlanders

By Finn Morton
Tane Edmed of the Waratahs reacts after missing a penalty goal to win the match during the round three Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Highlanders at Allianz Stadium, on March 08, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

It came right down to the end. With the ball propped up on his kicking tee, Waratahs fly-half Tane Edmed had an opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.


The Highlanders had worked hard to claim a two-point lead over the hosts, but the result was out of their hands as Edmed slowly stepped towards the ball.

But the attempt went wide and Edmed dropped his head. The Highlanders won a thriller 23-21 at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Friday evening.

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Match Summary

Penalty Goals
Drop Goals
Line Breaks
Turnovers Lost
Turnovers Won

Waratahs fans should still be proud of their rugby heroes, though, and the same of course should be said for their Highlanders counterparts.

That was a Trans-Tasman Super Rugby Pacific thriller.

Costly errors and poor execution costs the Waratahs a win

The easy thing to do here would be to focus on what happened at the end of the match. Tane Edmed had a chance to snatch it for the Waratahs at the death but pushed his attempt at goal wide right.


But let’s take a step back. In rugby, it’s very rarely the case that the goal-kicker should burden all the blame for a missed shot at victory. In truth, everything that led to that moment played a part.

From the early exchanges, the Waratahs looked a bit off in key moments. When they were down 3-10, they had multiple attacking opportunities inside the Highlanders’ 22 that didn’t finish with points.

Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava intercepted the ball on one of the Tahs’ attacks, and there was a knock-on inside the 22 with their next attacking opportunity a few minutes later.

While the Waratahs managed to fight their way into the lead, when the going got tough in the final ‘quarter’ of the fixture, they unfortunately reverted back to bad habits.


With just two points separating the teams, replacement Harry Wilson was penalised for a high tackle inside his own half. It gave Sam Gilbert the chance to extend the Highlanders’ lead, but fortunately for the hosts that attempt failed to hit the mark.

Shortly after, lock Max Hicks put a surprise grubber kick through from midfield. The kick was sent Max Jorgensen’s way, and the rising star coughed it up. That gave the Highlanders a scrum inside the Waratahs’ 22.

So, while some headlines may choose to focus on the missed kick at the end, it’s far more accurate to say that it was a series of mistakes that cost the Waratahs a win.

Highlanders centre Tanielu Tele’a scores a jaw-dropping try

The Highlanders needed a hero to stand up at Allianz Stadium, and it was centre Tanielu Tele’a who answered that call with a sensational score down the right edge.

Inside centre Sam Gilbert threw the ball wide to Tele’a, who reeled in the cut-out pass with a one-handed juggling act. But what happened next has to be seen to be believed.

From practically a standing start, Tele’a bumped off Triston Reilly with sheer force before getting the better of Joey Walton – the final defender who stood between the centre and the try line.

Tele’a was rightfully thrilled as he ran in for the score. The centre capped off the sensational solo effort with a swan dive followed by a passionate flex to the crowd.

It was Tele’a’s first try of the season, and there was no better time to make that impact than towards the end of the clash with the Tahs. It gave the visitors the lead.

Wallabies quartet nearly guide Tahs to win

Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Langi Gleeson and Ned Hanigan. All four men are Wallabies, and that quartet were among those who so nearly helped the Waratahs to what would’ve been their second consecutive win over New Zealand opposition.

Max Jorgensen, while not a capped Wallaby yet, was also solid out the back.

Gleeson carried hard every single time he touched the ball, and Hanigan was the tireless workhorse that he has been throughout the entirety of his career.

But it’s Perese and Nawaqanitawase who deserve much more than a mere honourable mention. Perese was the pick of the bunch with the centre standing out during a stunning first half.

Perese scored one try, carried the ball for 50 metres, made 14 post-contact metres, had one line break to his name and had beaten six defenders. That’s a pretty impressive 40 minutes of footy.

Then there’s Nawaqanitawase. The NRL-bound wing was all class to set up Perese’s try with a well-worked kick in behind the Highlanders’ defensive line.

But, in a moment that may have gone unnoticed earlier in the half, it was a tidy ‘Soccer’ kick to Tane Edmed off the ground which deserves some plaudits from fans.

They may have lost, but the Waratahs have the nucleus of a very good Super Rugby Pacific side. The Tahs will be back, and could still very well take out the title when it’s all said and done.


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Flatcoat 95 days ago

Don’t agree..kickers are selected to kick goals and win was a kickable penalty..he didn't do his job…

David 95 days ago

well in the end he missed itand you should have heard the aussie commentators go silent when the highlanders won

007 96 days ago

Jorgensen is the most overrated and super-hyped Aussie player in the comp’. The Aussie media are forever looking out for the second coming of Tim Horan/Jason Little.
They did it with Petaia, James O’Connor etc… the end result - consistently inconsistent performances by these young wunderkinds at state and international level.

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