Waratahs, Crusaders in Super Rugby final
The Super Rugby final between the Waratahs and the Crusaders will take place in Sydney next Saturday.
LONDON - Flyhalf Bernard Foley scored a brilliant late try and kicked 11 points to fire the New South Wales Waratahs to a 26-8 victory over the ACT Brumbies and into their third Super Rugby final on Saturday.
Foley finished off a breakaway move that started deep inside the Waratahs own half four minutes from time to seal the win and a home final next weekend against the Canterbury Crusaders, who beat South Africa's Sharks 38-6 in the earlier semi-final.
Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley celebrates as he runs in a brilliant break away try against the Brumbies. Picture: Official Waratahs Rugby Facebook Page
The Waratahs, who lost both their previous finals to the Crusaders in 2005 and 2008, had been set on the path to victory by opportunistic tries from winger Alofa Alofa and centre Kurtley Beale at the start of each half.
Waratahs star Israel Folau tries to burst through the clutches of the Brumbies defence. Picture: Official Super XV Rugby Facebook Page
The Brumbies, beaten finalists last year, played a full part in a hugely physical contest but were only able to cross once through winger Henry Speight in the 31st minute and failed to score after the break despite dominating possession.
"Fantastic," said Waratahs captain Michael Foley. "We spoke before the match about taking our chances but we had to make them tonight.
"They are a tough team but we're in the final and I'm psyched. It's new territory for us but very exciting territory."
The Canterbury Crusaders methodically ground down the Sharks to score four second half tries and canter to a 38-6 victory in Christchurch that propelled them to their first Super Rugby final in three years.
Crusaders captain Kieran Read, wingers Nemani Nadolo and Johnny McNicholl, scrumhalf Willi Heinz and flanker Matt Todd all scored tries for the home side, who dominated throughout and held the visitors scoreless in the second half.
Kieran Read celebrates scoring for the Crusaders against the Sharks. Picture: Official Super XV Rugby Facebook Page
All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter kicked two conversions and three penalties for the Crusaders, while Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie slotted two first half penalties.
The Crusaders advanced to their 11th final with the victory, which also released some of the pressure on coach Todd Blackadder, whose side had not reached the final since 2011 and have not won the title since he succeeded Robbie Deans in 2008.
"Extremely satisfied, knowing we are going to the big stage next week is an awesome feeling," Read said in a televised interview.
"We are really pleased with that performance. We started well, played at a high tempo early on and put them under pressure."
All Black skipper Richie McCaw returned from a rib injury for the Crusaders in their semifinal against the Sharks. Picture: Official Super XV Rugby Facebook Page
The Sharks' kicking-based territory game was executed badly with the ball either finding Crusaders' players in plenty of space to run it back, going out on the full or in one case by Lambie, rolling dead in goal.
Israel Dagg, Carter and Colin Slade capitalised by pinning the Sharks inside their own half or by playing at pace and stretching the visitors across the field, with Read prominent in his characteristic bursts down the wide channels.
Carter duly converted their opportunities with three first half penalties, while Read scored a 17th-minute try.
"Everything we worked on the last two weeks... we just couldn't do... we are extremely disappointed with our performance," Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis said.
"We didn't play in the right areas and couldn't do what we worked on."