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Waratahs Work Hard for Victory over Lions

NSW Rugby
Friday February 2, 2007

Investec Rugby Super 14 The NSW Waratahs have got their 2007 Super 14 campaign off to a winning start, downing a gallant Lions outfit 25-16 at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park.

The Waratahs made the most of their opportunities, scoring three tries to one despite being kept on their toes by an enthusiastic Lions outfit.

In the end composure and experience won it for the Waratahs, who secured victory 12 minutes from time when Adam Freier crossed out wide.

Freier’s try came about one phase after Lions centre Jacque Fourie was yellow carded for a lifting tackle on Lote Tuqiri.

The Waratahs, who only arrived in the Republic late on Wednesday after deliberately delaying their departure ahead of a three-game tour, showed no ill-effects as they looked to get the upper hand early.

Seeing off an early challenge the visitors opened the scoring in the 17th minute through a penalty to Peter Hewat, however the advantage was soon nullified when Lions flyhalf Louis Strydom – a late replacement for injured pivot, goal kicker and skipper Andre Pretorius – piloted a penalty of his own through the posts.

The Waratahs scored the first try of the match on 26 minutes, flyhalf Daniel Halangahu taking advantage of hesitation in the Lions defence to plant the ball on the line for an 8-3 lead.

A second Strydom penalty three minutes later took the score along to 8-6, however Waratahs flanker and man of the match Rocky Elsom would land a decisive blow just before half time when he went over out wide.

After a neat piece of counter attack from Sam Norton-Knight, Elsom shrugged off two would be tacklers to touch down just inside the right hand corner post.

Referee Chris Pollock went to the television match official who awarded the try, which Hewat converted for a 15-6 half time lead.

A rejuvenated Lions outfit emerged after half time, rookie winger Louis Ludik showing a clean pair of heels to touch down in the 42nd minute to narrow the gap to 15-13.

Hewat bought the Waratahs breathing space with a penalty ten minutes after the break, while Strydom countered with one of his own 12 minutes later.

With just two points separating the sides heading into the final quarter of the match the sin-binning of Fourie would ultimately prove decisive, Freier touching down off a well executed lineout and driving maul on the very next phase.

The try was converted by Hewat and despite one final shot at penalty – which was wide once again – the Lions could not bridge the gap, the Waratahs running out deserving 25-16 winners.

Elsom was a deserving man of the match for the Waratahs, while debutants Ben Hand, Dean Mumm and Kurtley Beale all showed themselves to be up to the rigours of Super 14 competition.

The Waratahs relocate to Durban on Saturday ahead of next Friday night’s (Saturday morning AEDT) clash with the Sharks at ABSA Stadium.

Match Details:

NSW WARATAHS – 25
Tries: Daniel Halangahu, Rocky Elsom, Adam Freier
Conversions: Peter Hewat 2/3
Penalty Goals: Peter Hewat 2/2

LIONS – 16
Tries: Louis Ludik
Conversions: Louis Strydom 1/1
Penalty Goals: Louis Strydom 3/6

@ Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Crowd: Approx 10,000
Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ)
Man of the Match: Rocky Elsom (Waratahs)
Yellow Card: Jacque Fourie (Lions)

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