The Sunwolves claimed a first-ever win in Australia as they overcame the Waratahs 31-29 in Newcastle on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Last weekend, the Waratahs ended the Crusaders’ 19-match winning streak with an impressive 20-12 victory. A week later, and they have suffered a shock home loss to the Sunwolves.
For the Japan-based side, it’s another stunning result, and one that will add further fuel to the fiery debate surrounding their axing from Vodacom Super Rugby after the 2020 season.
Earlier this season, the Sunwolves clinched a historic win outside of Asia for the first time in their history after outplaying the Chiefs in Waikato. This time around, they proved to be too strong for an error-prone Waratahs side.
The Waratahs made a steady enough start to this encounter, and exposed the Sunwolves’ defence as both Nick Phipps and Cam Clark went over for early tries to send the hosts into a handy 12-3 lead.
However, basic errors then began to hurt the Waratahs, who conceded as many as 12 turnovers by the end of the opening half. Against a team like the Sunwolves, it’s a recipe for disaster.
As the visitors pounced on mistakes and began to up the tempo, so they punished the Waratahs through well-worked tries to Grant Hattingh and Semisi Masirewa. It all contributed to the Sunwolves establishing a quite deserved 17-15 lead at the break.
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) March 29, 2019
Although the Waratahs again pushed ahead when Michael Hooper scored soon after the restart, the Sunwolves simply refused to give up the fight. This time, Masirewa produced another moment of magic to score a scintillating 50m try.
Just moments later, he struck again, this time pouncing on a poor pass to dart under the posts to complete his hat-trick and send his side into a 31-22 lead in the 53rd minute.
Although a litany of handling errors continued to prevent the Waratahs from establishing any rhythm to their play, Kurtley Beale did cut the deficit back to two points when he took a quick tap, before darting over the tryline.
However, it was too little too late as the Sunwolves held on for another famous win.
#SuperRugby – RESULT:
The Sunwolves have made history as they pick up their first ever win in Australia. pic.twitter.com/fhMpAxCJd1
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 29, 2019
Waratahs – Tries: Nick Phipps, Cam Clark, Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale. Conversions: Mack Mason (2), Beale. Penalty: Mason.
Sunwolves – Tries: Grant Hattingh, Semisi Masirewa (3). Conversions: Hayden Parker (4). Penalty: Parker.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Karmichael Hunt, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Mack Mason, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper, (c), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Subs: 16 Andrew Tuala, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Tom Staniforth, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Alex Newsome.
Sunwolves – 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Harumichi Tatakawa, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 7 Dan Pryor (c), 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Subs: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Takuya Yamasawa, 23 Hosea Saumaki.
Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images