Waratahs overawe Lions with second-half surge

The New South Wales Waratahs cemented their place in the top four of the Super 14 with a scrappy 26-3 win over the Lions in Sydney on Saturday.

The Waratahs overwhelmed their South African opponents in the second period after both sides had played out a mistake-ridden scoreless first half in wet and windy conditions.

It was the second capitulation in consecutive weeks for the bottom-placed Lions, who pushed the Canterbury Crusaders for the first half last week only to be overrun in the closing stages.

New South Wales moved further clear of the pack chasing semifinal qualification thanks to bonus-point winning tries from captain Phil Waugh, Dean Mumm, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Adam Freier.

“It was a terrible first half,” New South Wales coach Ewen McKenzie told Fox Sports.

“But we talked about the right things at half-time and they came out and did the business in the second half.”

Both teams were guilty of some poor ball handling in the first half, but the Waratahs were particularly sloppy, dropping the ball in good attacking positions at least six times.

To make matters worse, Waugh opted against two kickable penalty shots in quick succession, preferring to go for tries.

It was the captain who then broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half when he crossed in the corner after a period of sustained pressure.

The Lions hit back with a Jano Vermaak penalty after Kurtley Beale’s conversion attempt went wide, but the home side began to take control when lock Mumm barged over under the posts to put the home side 12-3 ahead.

Waratahs scrumhalf Luke Burgess charged a clearing kick down and hooker Polota-Nau claimed a simple try under the posts.

They made the game safe and secured the bonus point for scoring four tries when Freier, on as a replacement for Polota-Nau, scored in the corner.

Beale converted to add the final points for the match.

“We held them tryless. I think that’s the third team this year we’ve held tryless ... so it was a pretty good effort,” McKenzie added.

The Waratahs face the second-placed Sharks next week.—Reuters


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