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Waratahs push for play-offs

Published 23/05/2015

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Fijian winger Taqele Naiyaravoro scored two tries as the Waratahs enhanced their play-off prospects with a valuable 32-22 win over the Crusaders.

Glasgow Warriors will soon take Naiyaravoro off the Waratahs' hands, having agreed a three-year deal with the 23-year-old, and he showed off the ability and power that has drawn comparisons to Jonah Lomu by striking early in each half at ANZ Stadium.

Rob Horne also touched down, and fly-half Bernard Foley went it alone for a late score that earned a bonus point for the home side, launching a kick-and-chase that he collected by diving over the line.

This was a repeat of last year's Super Rugby final, and just as in that contest the Waratahs came out on top.

Naiyaravoro did not have the perfect match. He gave away the ball early to allow the Crusaders to build an attack from which Nemani Nadolo sped over in the corner to grab a second-minute try.

Dan Carter could not add the extras and in the fifth minute Naiyaravoro hauled the hosts level, with Israel Folau feeding his 6ft 5ins team-mate to cross in the corner. Foley landed an impressive conversion, but the Crusaders nudged a point ahead soon afterwards through a Carter penalty.

A yellow card for Tolu Latu after he and Will Skelton took out Sam Whitelock left Waratahs a man short, but the short absence of the Tonga-born hooker did not trouble them, with Foley slotting a penalty and Horne taking advantage of a dropped Crusaders pass to sprint for the line.

Foley added the conversion there, and by the time Latu was back on the field his team-mates were 10 unanswered points better off than when he departed.

Foley had a try disallowed before the interval, which the Waratahs reached with a 17-8 cushion.

An early Foley penalty in the second half was followed by Naiyaravoro's second try, in the 51st minute. Slick handling led to Folau relaying the ball to the man out wide who got through to score.

Foley missed the kick for goal, and three minutes later Richie McCaw gave the visitors hope when a burst from Nadolo created the chance to dot down, and Carter booted the extra two points.

It was game on when Matt Dodd got over too, after the Crusaders won a line-out deep in Waratahs territory with 15 minutes to play, and Carter converted.

However the sin-binning of McCaw with 10 minutes to go was a big blow for the Crusaders, handing the initiative to the team in front.

Foley confirmed the outcome in style, collecting the ball from behind the scrum and chipping ahead for himself to collect short of the line but dive across the turf just far enough to cross the white line. He immaculately added the extras, to make it a 10-point victory margin.

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