Crusaders hold off Waratahs in final trial

Getty Images     15 Feb 2013     Getty Images

The Waratahs scored two tries to one and declined several kickable penalties in a competitive encounter played with all the physicality of a regular-season fixture.

Prop Paea Fa'anunu crossed for the Crusaders in the 22nd minute while Lopeti Timani and Paddy Ryan answered for the 'Tahs in a dominant second-half showing from the home side.

Playing fullback in just his third game of rugby since cutting short his AFL experiment, Folau made two line-breaks and was generally where he needed to be in defence in a promising performance.

He made one error in the 12th minute when his rugby league instincts kicked in and he tapped the ball over the dead-ball line to gift Dan Carter, who played 38 minutes, an easy penalty goal.

But the 6824 fans that turned up at Allianz Stadium saw enough from their prize recruit to leave happy despite the result.

Ryan's 66th-minute score gave Michael Cheika's men their first lead of the night before a late Tom Taylor penalty goal stole victory for the Crusaders.

The visitors increased their advantage 10 minutes later when Fanunu barged over from an attacking lineout.

Carter nailed the sideline conversion for 10-0.

The rusty Waratahs looked threatening at the close of the half but were unable to capitalise on several opportunities as the Crusaders' defence held firm, with Taylor kicking his first penalty after the half-time siren.

Folau showed his class in the 48th minute, bamboozling three Crusaders defenders with a giant two-foot step and some more fancy footwork drawing raucous cheers from the Waratahs faithful.

The Waratahs spent most of the second half camped in Crusaders territory and would have scored in the 60th minute if half-back Brendan McKibbin hadn't tripped over his own feet.

But the hosts finally got on the board a minute later when Lopeti Timani used brute strength to power over the tryline despite the attention of several defenders.

McKibbin slotted the sideline conversion to cut the deficit to six points.

The 'Tahs continued to dominate and hit the front for the first time six minutes later when replacement hooker Ryan powered over from a driving maul with the help of about 10 team-mates.

Waratahs 14
Tries: L. Timani, Holmes,
Cons: McKibbin 2/2,

Crusaders 16
Tries: Fa'anunu
Cons: Carter 1/1
Pens: Carter 1/1, Taylor 2/2,

Crowd: 6824