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Waratahs secure statement win over Reds before Super Rugby Women finals

By AAP
Katrina Barker of the NSW Waratahs celebrates her try with teammates during the round five Super Rugby Women's match between NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds at Allianz Stadium on April 12, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Waratahs will enter the Super Rugby Women finals as overwhelming favourites for a fifth title after a 34-19 defeat of the Queensland Reds confirmed an unbeaten regular season.

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The NSW side had already secured first place on the ladder prior to Friday’s clash with their interstate rivals and will now host either the ACT Brumbies or Western Force in a home semi-final next Friday.

The loss at Allianz Stadium officially ends a disappointing campaign for last season’s runners-up, who managed just one win from five starts in 2024.

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If the Melbourne Rebels upset the Fijian Drua on Saturday, the perennial Super W heavyweights will finish the season in last place.

Mid-game leg injuries to prop Charli Jacoby and winger Dianne Waight did not help Queensland’s cause, with the Waratahs scoring shortly after each setback to rub salt into the wounds.

Jacoby managed to return in the second half, charging over for the Reds’ second try, but the visitors lost outside centre Georgina Friedrichs to yet another leg issue not long afterwards.

The Waratahs should have been further ahead than 17-7 at the main break but were clumsy shifting the ball.

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They opened the scoring in the first five minutes, overwhelming the Reds with their ruck speed to help Atasi Lafai burrow over.

Only three minutes later after Waight had gone down, Waratahs fullback Caitlyn Halse ripped the ball from replacement winger Alana Elisaia and streaked 60 metres down the left side to extend the advantage.

The Waratahs lost Kaitlan Leaney to a yellow card just before the break, the second-rower ordered off for lifting Lucy Thorpe in a dangerous tackle.

It proved the spark the Reds needed to get into the game, with Tiarna Molloy barging over to get the visitors on the board barely a minute later.

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Captain Cecilia Smith followed Jacoby onto the scoreboard and helped the Reds keep the heat on their highly-fancied hosts in the final 10 minutes.

But it was too little too late as inside centre Cheech Barker skipped through a hole on the left side to confirm the Waratahs’ win.

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Jon 1 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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