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NSW Waratahs claim first Super Rugby title with 33-32 win over Crusaders

Waratahs 33 Crusaders 32

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Waratahs win maiden title

NSW win the Super Rugby 2014 title against the Crusaders in a thrilling 33-32 triumph at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

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As it happened: Waratahs v Crusaders

Fairytale endings are just that. For story books and bedtime, not the brutal cut and thrust of real life, let alone the rugby pitch. 

But the Waratahs have ignored every convention of rugby and real life for six brilliant months and on Saturday night, in front of a 61,800 Super Rugby record crowd, snapped a decade-long losing streak to the most successful province in SANZAR history to claim a maiden title and banish the ghosts of cynicism in Sydney and NSW.

Double down: Adam Ashley-Cooper scores his second try for the Waratahs during Saturday's Super Rugby grand final.

Double down: Adam Ashley-Cooper scores his second try for the Waratahs during Saturday's Super Rugby grand final. Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

An Adam Ashley-Cooper double and a cold-as-ice penalty goal from five-eighth Bernard Foley with a minute left sealed the win, but only after a bone-crunching, blow-by-blow battle with the seven-time champions. 

The Waratahs led 14-0 with 15 minutes gone and 20-13 at half-time but a questionable try awarded to Nemani Nadolo in the 43rd minute sparked a trademark comeback from the assured visitors, who had not lost to NSW in a decade. 

A 76th-minute penalty goal from Colin Slade, the Crusaders' wolf in sheep's clothing, looked to have broken NSW hearts, giving the Crusaders a 32-30 lead with four minutes to go.

Flying high: Adam Ashley-Cooper grabs a kick for the Waratahs against the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

Flying high: Adam Ashley-Cooper grabs a kick for the Waratahs against the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images

But the Waratahs proved their mettle on the biggest stage, against the toughest opponents to strike back.

A jubilant Michael Cheika, who began transforming the franchise as soon as he stepped off the plane from Paris little more than two years ago, cried tears of elation as he embraced his assistants and support staff in the coaches' box, before joining his players on the field to a rock-star reception.  

The Crusaders took a solid 10 minutes to wake up, a period they will rue in hindsight as the Waratahs got a roll on early. Ashley-Cooper's first came in the fifth minute and Foley missed the conversion but the Test five-eighth slotted two penalties in a row to make it 14-0.

Champions: Waratahs players celebrate after winning the Super Rugby final over the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium. Click for more photos

NSW Waratahs win Super Rugby final

The Waratahs got home in a thriller 33-32 via a late penalty goal to Bernard Foley. Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Crusaders breakaway Matt Todd struck in the 18th minute and Dan Carter converted, before Foley and Slade traded penalties for the rest of the half. 

Carter left the field with a rolled ankle about the 30-minute mark, and Wycliff Palu survived a period in the concussion bin to return and play out the half. 

The second half sputtered to a disastrous start for NSW. Television match official George Ayoub awarded a try to wrecking-ball winger Nadolo in the 43rd minute despite an apparent foot in touch. Slade converted to level the scores at 20-20 and the Waratahs lost Test hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau to injury. 

Up there, Hooper: Michael Hooper grabs a lineout for the Waratahs.

Up there, Hooper: Michael Hooper grabs a lineout for the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

A tense 10 minutes ensued. The Waratahs' scrum was badly penalised, prompting referee Craig Joubert to offer to his assistants "he's getting smashed" of NSW tight-head Sekope Kepu.

Foley missed a shot at goal in the 52nd minute but came good two minutes later to level at 23-23. They gifted Slade his next shot and the solid Crusaders playmaker kicked his side to a 26-23 lead in the 57th minute. 

The visitors had NSW in a vice-like grip, squeezing at will to force errors in attack and defence, but the home side kept coming and Ashley-Cooper crossed for his second in the 63rd minute. Foley converted to make it 30-26 to the Tahs. 

It was white-knuckle stuff for the rest of the match, as Slade and Foley taunted each other with penalty goals. It was the Australian who had the last laugh. 

121 comments so far

  • Congrats to the Tahs. (and the Crusaders) for a fantastic game. Amazing entertainment.
    And, deja vu, all over again.
    The world's best and biggest cheat, Sir Richie McCaw, gives away the penalty at the death. Same way that the Reds won the final in 2011. Yehaw!
    PS: the Tahs went all the way, and did not have JOC. Just goes to prove that Australian teams do not need the JOCstar.

    Commenter
    Jut the facts.
    Date and time
    August 02, 2014, 9:46PM
    • Sweet justice, again. Joubert must still be feeling guilty about giving the All Blacks a free ride in the 2011 World Cup final to help them stumble over the line. The equivalent of the referees Heimlich manouvre. Richie McCaw won't go down as the greatest rugby 7 ever but he will go down as the greatest rugby cheat ever. He makes Sean Fitzpatrick look like a choir boy.
      Only in NZ would this seem meritorious

      Commenter
      Johnny- boy
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 9:50AM
    • Jut the facts that's not the facts. McCaws penalty didn't lose the 2011 final, it lost them a round robin game v the Reds earlier in the comp.

      Commenter
      rexhapi
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 1:54PM
  • YES !

    Commenter
    Machooka
    Location
    inner west sydney
    Date and time
    August 02, 2014, 10:00PM
    • Onya chook! Were you there? It was the most nervous I have been since the 2012 AFL grand final. Test match quality.

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Kiama
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 11:30PM
    • Machooka, what a great result for true Tah believers such as you - (and me). Seriously tho, always great comments from you and that Blinky Bill fella. What a great reward for years in the wilderness - it tastes so much the sweeter tonight.

      Commenter
      Mattchoo
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 12:17AM
    • @ Chook.... Yep mate, congrats, on a fantastic win, as the match was all, plus more, it was hyped up to be. Bernard Foley was brilliant, and now Australia has a first five that is the best that they have had for well over a decade. His probing, taking the ball to the line, passing etc, was something that has been sorely missed, over the years. He will, without doubt, take that game to the next level. Massively impressed, how this ex seven's,has got better with every outing. Even the two "Izzy's" were well contained. Cheers

      Commenter
      Muzzo
      Location
      Orange
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 9:52AM
    • I bet you can't say anything else cause you haven't stopped celebrating yet Chook! Well done and most importantly WELL DESERVED. Patience has its own rewards eh? Bask in the glory Tah fans, your team was magnificent.

      Commenter
      Old LeatherFace
      Location
      Auckland
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 11:20AM
    • Hi Machooka,

      I'm more of a lurker than poster in the rugby section. But gotta say, reading your contributions here, for me, is just as worthy and entertaining as the editorial content. Pretty sure you'd take the award for best and fairest, if such a thing was given to regular contributors. Watching from Shanghai on the edge of my seat. Great match, great opponents in the Crusaders, and what a fantastic win!

      From a fellow Tahs fan.

      Commenter
      thrash jazz assassin
      Location
      shanghai
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 3:18PM
    • Machooka,

      congratulations to Tahs and supporters. Deserving winners and great season performance. Enjoy the win and I certainly enjoyed the game (excluding the last min).

      Commenter
      Crusaders.Fan
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 4:05PM

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