Home teams on top in both Australasian derbies

Home teams on top in both Australasian derbies

The two Australasian derbies on Saturday both went the way of the home sides as most pundits had expected.

 In the case of the Waratahs who crept closer to leaders Melbourne Rebels with their win in Sydney, it could ultimately determine the leading Australian Conference team for the play-offs. 

Highlanders vs Blues 

The Highlanders recorded their third win and the first since the second round of the competition when they came back after a spirited start to the match by the visiting Blues in Dunedin on Saturday.

The final score was a convincing 24-12 after a quick start with the Blues running at full pace that forced 67 tackles from the home side in the first 21 minutes.

The Highlanders gradually came back into the game and were, somewhat luckily, 7-5 ahead at the break although most of the attacking and line-breaking had come from the Blues.

The second half saw the gradual control change to full control as the Highlanders were awarded a penalty try for their strong scrummaging nine minutes after the restart. They were 14-5 ahead and when  Matt Faddes picked up a loose pass seven minutes later to run 50 metres to score,  the Highlanders were in full command with a 21-5 lead which they increased to 24-5 a further sevens minutes on.

Melani Nanai scored a consolation try two minutes before full-time.

Highlanders (7) 24: Tries: Shannon Frizell, penalty try, Matt Faddes. Conversions: Josh Ioane (2). Penalty: Ioane.
Blues (5) 12: Tries: Tom Robinson, Melani Nanai. Conversion: Harry Plummer. 

Waratahs vs Melbourne Rebels 

The Waratahs, a troubled side in the fall-out from the Israel Folau saga, bounced back in the second half of their derby to edge the ill-disciplined Melbourne Rebels at the Sydney Cricket Ground and move back into serious contention in the Australian Conference.

The final score was 23-20 after the two teams had gone into halftime with the visitors leading 20-7. However, in the second half the errors creeped into the Rebels play and at one stage they had conceded seven consecutive penalties in  a little more than 20 minutes in the second half.

The Waratahs fought back from 7-20 at halftime, with all 16 their second-half points coming from flyhalf Bernard Foley who won his duel with Quade Cooper.

Kurtley Beale used the opportunity at fullback to provide the selectors and fans with some reassurance that the fullback is covered for should Folau, as seems likely, not be able to play for the Wallabies.

With the Rebels having a bye next weekend, the Waratahs – only four adrift on the log and with a match in hand – can move ahead in the Australian Conference next weekend when they face the Sharks, who have dished up two shocking displays in their last two matches.

Scorers –

Waratahs (20) 20: Tries: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Bernard Foley. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Foley (3).
Rebels (7) 23: Tries: Billy Meakes, Reece Hodge. Conversions: Quade Cooper (2). Penalty: Cooper.