The HSBC Waratahs gallant 2011 campaign has come to a close after going down to the Blues 26-13 in their Super Rugby Qualifier at Eden Park, Auckland.
In a season where a record 38 players pulled on the state colours, the HSBC Waratahs put up a brave fight to qualify for the playoffs, but were ultimately disappointed not to progress past the first week of the Finals Series.
It was a sad farewell for the state’s most capped player, captain Phil Waugh, who finishes his career with a record 136 appearances for New South Wales.
While there was little rain throughout the night, a wet week in Auckland meant the game was played in slippery conditions and territory was king. After both sides had their chances in the opening exchanges, Tom Carter carried defenders over the line to score his sixth try of the season – equal highest for the Waratahs with Drew Mitchell – for an early lead.
However the Blues hit back soon after through Lachie Munro, with Luke McAlister’s conversion edging the home side ahead after 24 minutes. At the 30 minute mark Kurtley Beale kicked a conversion to push the Waratahs in front by a point, however two three-pointers from Munro in the following five minutes gave the hosts a 13-8 lead at the break.
The Waratahs’ injury curse continued after half-time with Kane Douglas and Sitaleki Timani both forced off the field with leg injuries, and Munro’s third penalty took the margin out further. In the 63rd minute some good lead up work led to Ali Williams’ try, with Munro’s conversion taking the lead to 23-8.
Lachie Turner’s try in the 74th minute reduced the gap to ten points and an outside chance of victory, however a long range penalty to McAlister two minutes from time sealed the result.
Blues 26 (Lachie Munro, Ali Williams tries; Lachie Munro 3 pens, con, Luke McAlister con, pen)
Waratahs 13 (Tom Carter, Lachie Turner tries; Kurtley Beale pen)
HT: Blues 13-8.
Referee: Chris Pollock (NZL).
By the clock
18th – Tom Carter try; Kurtley Beale missed conversion. HSBC Waratahs 5-0
24th – Lachie Munro try; Luke McAlister conversion. Blues 7-5
31st – Kurtley Beale penalty goal. HSBC Waratahs 8-7
33rd – Lachie Munro penalty goal. Blues 10-8
36th – Lachie Munro penalty goal. Blues 13-8
51st – Lachie Munro missed penalty attempt
56th – Lachie Munro penalty goal. Blues 16-8
63rd – Ali Williams try; Lachie Munro conversion. Blues 23-8
74th – Lachie Turner try; Kurtley Beale missed conversion. Blues 23-13
78th – Luke McAlister penalty goal. Blues 26-13