25 July, 2024
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Waratahs upset Super Rugby champion Crusaders


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The Waratahs have consigned the Crusaders to their worst Super Rugby season start in a decade with a shock 37-24 win over last year’s champions.

NSW finally gave Australian rugby fans something to cheer about, with five-eighth Tane Edmed orchestrating the convincing victory on Saturday night at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, which is hosting all 12 teams over Super Round this weekend.

 Playmaker Tane Edmed (l) steered the Waratahs to victory in impressive fashion. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Coming on the back of their opening-round loss to the Chiefs, it’s the first time since 2014 that the Crusaders have lost their first two matches in an ominous sign for Rob Penney, who formerly coached NSW.

Penney took over the most successful team in the competition’s history this year after being sacked by the Waratahs following their winless season in 2021.

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman had an inkling that his troops were up for something special, telling reporters after their final training run he wished he could have a bet on the $10 underdogs.

But even he would have been surprised by the four-try haul, which trumped their 24-21 win over the Crusaders back in 2022 at Leichhardt Oval.

“Obviously you’re happy, you’re excited, you’re thrilled for all the people that put in a lot of work that sometimes doesn’t always get rewarded or doesn’t come out on the field, both players and staff,” said Coleman when asked of his emotions.

“Tonight was a bit of vindication for those people … in a nutshell it felt pretty good.”

Coleman praised Edmed, who was also was on target with his goal-kicking andsaved a certain try when he beat flyer Sevu Reece to the ball.

“Tane is such a dedicated, devoted athlete that you’re just willing him to do well because he puts so much effort into it and particularly his position is such a controlling and difficult position,” the coach said.

“For him to have a great night, it was awesome.”

 Desperate Waratahs’ defence prevented All Blacks winger Sevu Reece scoring a third try this time. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

The Crusaders scored after just 90 seconds with winger Macca Springer outflanking the opposition but the Waratahs refused to be rattled.

Halves Edmed and skipper Jake Gordon kept their Crusaders’ 20-year-old halves pairing of Noah Hotham and Taha Kemara guessing while the NSW forwards dominated the breakdown battle.

After Hugh Sinclair scored their first try off a chargedown, Edmed piled on the penalties before he slipped through the defence to put Harry Wilson over right on halftime for a 23-10 lead.

The Crusaders drew first blood in the second half with Reece bagging a second try in the 48th minute, but the Waratahs hit back when Edmed kicked the ball crossfield into the waiting arms of Triston Reilly.

Gordon then pounced on a loose ball and scooted away with the lead blowing out to 37-17 and while the Crusaders got a late try it was the Waratahs night to celebrate.

 Angus Bell (c) was strong amid a powerful performance by the Waratahs forwards. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Penney said two yellow cards incurred by his team, who are badly missing Japan-based superstar playmaker, Richie Mo’unga, proved costly.

“We started well and then we fell into a bit of a hole, made a few errors, gave away a few penalties, and we didn’t or we weren’t able to build any momentum on the back of that,” Penney said.

“We were sort of trying to fight to get momentum and when we built pressure, we would release it.”

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