Super Rugby
Waratahs beat Chiefs in end-to-end encounter
ESPN Staff
February 6, 2015
Super Rugby Preview

The Waratahs and the Chiefs, winners of the past three Super Rugby titles between them, wrapped up their pre-season trials campaign with an entertaining affair at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, the hosts winning 38-36 with Rob Horne bagging a hat-trick of tries.

The teams combined for 10 tries - six to the hosts, four to the Chiefs - as they each moved the ball in clinical fashion, particularly in the first half, but the Waratahs, who had 14 Test players on the paddock in the first half, produced increasingly the physical and aggressive forwards play that had laid the platform for their 2014 title victory. The Tahs also displayed a level of strength and dominance in the scrum, and that could be an ominous sign for their rivals as newly appointed forwards coach Mario Ledesma, the former Argentina Test front-rower, is only weeks into his tenure. That said, the reigning champions defeated the two-time title winners only after replacement Chiefs fly-half Damian McKenzie missed a 45-metre penalty from in front with two minutes to play.

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis, who entered the fray from the bench far earlier than had been expected, after Mitchell Chapman had suffered a heavy concussion in the 14th minute, described the trial as "perfect" for the Waratahs.

Sonny Bill Williams takes on the Waratahs defence during their final pre-season trial, Waratahs v Chiefs pre-season trial, Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney, February 6, 2015
SBW took the field during the second half but couldn't steal the win for the Chiefs © Getty Images

"We got tested," Dennis said after the game. "They threw the ball around a lot. Happy with the attack. Obviously the defence could be a bit better; it was the perfect trial for us. You saw at the end we were pretty well cooked, particularly the Wallabies guys who haven't played at all."

The Tahs were slick with ball in hand early, feeding Taqele Naiyaravoro and Horne to score on either flank before the floodgates opened at the other end; the Chiefs were equally damaging with ball-in-hand on the unstructured counter - with their wingers, Hosea Gear and Bryce Heem, also dotting down, the latter after a length-of-field bust by Michael Fitzgerald and Brad Weber after Bernard Foley had spilled a ball hard on attack for the Tahs. Fitzgerald also scored after charging down an attempted clearance kick inside the Tahs 22, but the Waratahs then crossed again through Israel Folau, Horne and Jacques Potgieter to lead 33-28 at the end of a breathless half.

Sonny Bill Williams entered the fray at half-time for the Chiefs but he made little impact in his first outing of the year, and the second stanza lost whatever sense of shape the game had once had - notable only for Horne claiming his third try when he crossed in the left corner after consecutive penalties against the Chiefs.

The Chiefs reduced the margin to the final scoreline through Tevita Koloamatangi, who broke away with a rare turn of speed on the left after the Waratahs had spilled the ball on halfway, but McKenzie could not land the extras from the corner and then pushed his penalty to win the game in the final minutes.

Horne took the spotlight with a hat-trick © Getty Images
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