Waratahs end 40-game trans-Tasman horror run

Durban (South Africa) (AFP) –


NSW Waratahs ended Australia's 40-match losing streak against New Zealand rivals by thrashing Otago Highlanders 41-12 Saturday, while Richie Mo'unga booted Canterbury Crusaders back to the top of Super Rugby with a 32-24 victory over Auckland Blues.

Meanwhile, a last-gasp Hayden Parker drop goal saw Sunwolves down Western Stormers 26-23 and Coastal Sharks beat Waikato Chiefs 28-24 in a Durban match riddled with handling errors.

Waratahs scored six tries to two in Sydney to rout Highlanders, who played much of the match with 14 men after winger Tevita Nabura was sent off in the 19th minute.

The last time an Australian team beat a New Zealand side was just over two years ago when Waratahs downed Chiefs.

Waratahs opened an 8-0 lead after 14 minutes thanks to a Bernard Foley penalty and a try to massive winger Taqele Naiyaravoro.

They took complete control once Nabura inexplicably kicked NSW winger Cameron Clark in the head as he leaped for a high ball.

Three minutes later the visitors were down to 13 men when Aaron Smith was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on.

Waratahs only scored once while Smith was sin-binned, a second to Naiyaravoro, but dominated the first half to lead 15-0 at half-time.

Israel Folau scored the 49th and 50th tries of his Super Rugby career early in the second half as the Waratahs began to run away with the match.

"The last thing we'd been thinking about (was the losing streak)," Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said.

"We'd been thinking about what we've been doing each week, incrementally building, and we got a good result tonight," he said.

It was four tries apiece in wet Auckland, where penalties made the difference as Crusaders downed Blues to move a point ahead of Wellington Hurricanes.

Crusaders were up 7-0 in the second minute with a try to George Bridge, who created havoc down the left wing throughout.

The impressive Crusaders pack kept Blues on the defensive for most of the first half and delivered tries to Quinten Strange, Matt Todd and Bryn Hall as they raced to a 29-12 lead at the break.

- 'Played at right end' -

Blues tightened their defence and focus in the second half to be rewarded with two tries by Michael Collins while the Crusaders, despite dominating territory, were limited to a penalty by Mo'unga, his second of the match.

"Conditions made it tough to play, so we wanted to make sure we played at the right end," Crusaders captain Todd said.

"In the first half when we got down their end we took points.

Sunwolves have endured some torrid defeats since entering the competition in 2016, but have now won twice in a row for the first time after last week's 63-28 rout of Queensland Reds.

The win over Stormers, their first away from Tokyo, also extinguished the faint play-off hopes of the South Africans.

"We created history today," said Sunwolves coach Jamie Joseph.

"We've had some lean times, no doubt. But really we're headed in the right direction and I think that's really pleasing for the players."

In sweltering conditions for Hong Kong's first Super Rugby game, Stormers were quickly into the lead and were ahead 17-10 at the break.

Sunwolves lifted their game in the second half and Parker stroked them into the lead for the first time with a coolly struck penalty on 65 minutes.

In the closing 10 minutes, Stormers marksman SP Marais landed two penalties to regain the lead before the Sunwolves struck back with an 80th-minute penalty by Parker and then his post-siren drop goal.

Sharks won for the third time in four outings against New Zealand opponents this season with Super Rugby leading points scorer Robert du Preez adding 18 points to his tally.

But it was a hollow success for Sharks as Chiefs lacked 20 of their squad, including stars Damian McKenzie and Brodie Retallick, due to an All Blacks training camp and injuries.