Super Rugby
Waratahs fire to halt Hurricanes winning run
ESPN Staff
April 18, 2015
Date/Time: Apr 18, 2015, 16:30 local, 04:30 GMT
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Hurricanes 24 - 29 New South Wales Waratahs
Half-time: 19 - 19
Tries: Barrett, Perenara, Shields, Smith
Cons: Barrett 2
Tries: Betham 2, Folau, Skelton
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley
Bernard Foley and Ma' Nonu collide while chasing down the high ball, Hurricanes v Waratahs, Super Rugby, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, April 18, 2015
The Waratahs were tough when they took on the Hurricanes
© Getty Images
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NSW captain Dave Dennis has hailed his side's character and resilience after the Waratahs revived their Super Rugby title defence with a bonus-point win over the Hurricanes in Wellington. With their finals hopes on the line after a shock home loss to the Stormers, the Waratahs ran in four tries on Saturday to end the Hurricanes' unbeaten start to the season in a spirited 29-24 display at the Cake Tin.

The victory lifted the titleholders back into the top six before their crucial Australian conference clashes against the Rebels and Brumbies.

"Not a lot of people would have given us a chance coming over here [against] the ladder leaders," Dennis said. "It wasn't perfect but it's a win. Although they scored a lot of points, we still worked hard for each other so that's really positive."

The Waratahs found the physical edge coach Michael Cheika had been looking for, with Dennis and power forwards Wycliff Palu and Will Skelton leading the way in a helter-skelter contest that featured eight tries and just as many near misses. Opting for six forwards on the bench, NSW coach Michael Cheika got full value from his reserves as the Waratahs took command in the second half after the sides went to the interval locked at 19-19.

Hurricanes 24-29 Waratahs (video available in Australia only)

A physical match up, Cheika was pleased with how hard his team come out at the start of the match despite the risks that were exposed on the inside.

"We obviously came pretty hard, it was very physical, we left ourselves a little at risk on the inside as we got taken a couple of times, but we scrambled out of those situations some times," Cheika said. "We know that they're a good attacking team so if you stay off they're going to hurt you regardless. So you've got to get in their and try to get physical."

Star fullback Israel Folau's 52nd-minute strike, followed by Bernard Foley's conversion and a penalty goal gave the Waratahs a 10-point buffer. But they had to hang over during a tense final 10 minutes following a soft try to Hurricanes livewire TJ Perenara.

In a seesawing first half, the Waratahs led, trailed and drew level after the siren sounded when winger Peter Betham grabbed his second try of the game. Proving a worthy fill-in for Taqele Naiyaravoro, who was grounded in Sydney because of visa restrictions, Betham snapped up an errant, no-look pass from Beauden Barrett to score under the posts.

He also grabbed the opening try of the match in the 14th minute before the Hurricanes struck back with two tries in three minutes through Conrad Smith and Barrett, then edged in front just after the half-hour mark with another five-pointer to Brad Shields.

But the Waratahs were not to be denied, leaving the Hurricanes to settle for two consolation bonus points for bagging four tries and losing by less than eight points. It was enough for the Wellington outfit to climb back above the Chiefs to top spot on the ladder at the half-way point of the competition.

A good turn around from last week's loss to the Stomers at home, Cheika said there was still a long way to go for the Waratahs especially with the lack of consistency the side has shown over the course of the season.

"No, we're probably a game or two behind where we should be. It was a round performance, but we've been to scratchy. We've done some really good things - the Brumbies game was really good, tonight was excellent - but I think the necessity to win this competition is around consistency and the goal will be to bring that consistency to the next long run of games. We just take one at a time and being consistent with every performance and if we're not we won't get to the highest level we got to last year."

© AAP

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