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Waratahs' fightback ruined as Reds seal a thrilling one-point win

By AAP
Reds' Hunter Paisami is congratulated after scoring a try in Sydney (Photo by Steve Christo/Corbis via Getty Images)

Queensland have warmed up for the Super Rugby Pacific finals and condemned the NSW to one last deflating defeat with a thrilling 27-26 win over the wooden spooners in Sydney.

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The Reds resisted a spirited second-half fightback from the Waratahs to hold on and secure the Bob Templeton Cup in the latest compelling edition of Australian rugby’s longest and fiercest interstate rivalry on Friday night.

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt was in the stands at Allianz Stadium and might well have put a line through any NSW players he previously had in mind for the upcoming Test season had he left at half-time with the visitors dominating and leading 19-0.

The Waratahs’ depleted front row stocks have been well documented this season, with even former Wallabies prop Paddy Ryan answering an SOS call from outgoing coach Darren Coleman to make a one-off cameo after returning from a stint in Japan.

But the NSW forwards couldn’t be blamed for the Reds running rings around the Waratahs backline in an embarrassing opening 40 minutes for departing stars Izaia Perese, who is off to France, and the NRL-bound Mark Nawaqanitawase.

Fixture
Super Rugby Pacific
Waratahs
26 - 27
Full-time
Reds
All Stats and Data

Tate McDermott’s softest of tries in the 18th minute typified the Tahs’ woeful season. With the hosts caught napping like schoolboys after conceding a penalty in front of their sticks and expecting the Reds to take a shot at goal, McDermott opted for a quick tap instead and crossed for his easiest career try.

His 27th five-pointer also moved the half-back past Samu Kerevi and Scott Higginbotham into third on Queensland’s all-time Super Rugby try-scorers list, behind only Chris Latham (41) and Ben Tune (31).

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McDermott’s effort followed early tries from classy centre Josh Flook and lock Seru Uru earned the Reds their 19-point lead at the break. But one last half-time spray from Coleman fired the home side up for a second-half revival.

Not even the Reds’ fourth try in the 49th minute to Hunter Paisami could stop the Waratahs from surging to a 26-24 lead with replies from winger Dyland Pietsch, impressive five-eighth Jack Bowen and forwards Jed Holloway and Jay Fono Kalafi.

The Waratahs’ lead lasted only two minutes as a Tom Lynagh penalty goal nudged the visitors back in front. Bowen, the son of former Waratahs and Wallabies No10 Scott Bowen, had the chance to steal it but hooked a 79th-minute penalty goal attempt before the Reds defended desperately for more than 20 phases at the death to hold on.

While the Waratahs’ season is over, the fifth-placed Reds will head to Waikato next week to face the fourth-placed Chiefs in a knockout quarter-final.

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