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Waratahs step up play-offs bid

Published 16/05/2015

Bernard Foley scored 23 points as the Waratahs beat the Sharks in Sydney
Bernard Foley scored 23 points as the Waratahs beat the Sharks in Sydney

The Waratahs beat the Sharks 33-18 in Sydney on Saturday to keep their hopes of reaching the Super Rugby play-offs alive.

Tries from Adam Ashley-Cooper, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Bernard Foley, who also kicked 18 points, ensured the defending Super Rugby champions earned a fourth victory in five games.

The win enabled the Sydney-based franchise to maintain their rivalry at the top of the Australia Conference with the Brumbies, who faced the Lions later on Saturday.

Ashley-Cooper could not quite believe his fortune when, in the opening minute, lax Sharks defending from a lineout allowed him to crash over under the posts. Foley kicked the straightforward conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Francois Steyn put the Sharks on the board with a 17th-minute penalty but Foley followed suit with two of his own to stretch the hosts' lead to 10 points, before Steyn added another three-pointer to reduce the lead to 13-6 at half-time.

The Sharks started the second half better than they did the first and Odwa Ndungane latched on to Lionel Cronje's cross-field kick to dot down in the corner in the 48th minute and reduce the Waratahs' lead to just two points.

The advantage was nine points four minutes later, however, when a superb backline move allowed Naiyaravoro to crash over in the corner and, despite the difficult angle, Foley added the extras.

Steyn profited from some poor Waratahs defensive play on the hour mark to touch down under the posts and convert to reduce the lead to 20-18, but Foley responded by slotting a couple of penalties to give the hosts some breathing space.

Sharks wing S'bura Sithole had a 70th-minute try ruled out by the TMO for a knee in touch, before Foley wrapped up victory when he collected a wayward Cronje pass and raced home from 40 metres out to touch down under the posts.

Foley added the conversion to finish the game with 23 points and condemn the Sharks to a sixth successive defeat.

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