THE NSW Waratahs, featuring Berry’s Will Miller, have gone down 39-27 to a resurgent Chiefs side in Saturday night’s round Super Rugby clash in Hamilton.
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Vice-captain Bernard Foley celebrated his 100th NSW cap, the flyhalf reaching this milestone after making his first appearance for the NSW Waratahs off the bench against the Blues back in 2011.
On the same night, 23-year-old backrower Brad Wilkin made his Vodafone Super Rugby debut after a testing two-year stint on the sidelines, replacing Will Miller in the 65th minute.
Cam Clark opened up the scoring for the evening, the winger finding the corner off the back of the game’s first scrum after five minutes of play.
Foley’s conversion gave his team an early 0-7 lead.
The visitors increased the deficit with a second try in the 13th minute, centre Curtis Rona crossing for his fourth NSW Waratahs try of the season from a set play that stemmed from a lineout.
Four minutes later and the home team struck back, second rower Brodie Retallick scoring under the posts to close the gap to 7-14 following a Damian McKenzie conversion.
The Chiefs bided their time in mounting pressure on the NSW defence, the break coming for the home team in the 29th minute when backrower Liam Messam put hooker Nathan Harris over for a try.
With the scores sitting at 12-14 after a wayward McKenzie conversion attempt, the Chiefs’ flyhalf made up for it by crossing for a try in the 33rd to claim a 19-14 lead; a score line that remained as the two teams entered the sheds for halftime.
The NSW Waratahs came out firing in the second 40, NSW flyhalf Bernard Foley posting the first points of the half in the form of a penalty in the 43rd minute.
Chiefs winger Toni Pulu had an instant rebuttal, crossing in the corner just two minutes later to extend his side’s lead to 24-17.
The match’s back and forth nature continued when the two NSW centres combined to put Kurtley Beale over for a 51st minute try, equalised by a successful sideline conversion from the latest NSW centurion, Bernard Foley.
Toni Pulu was the next to cross the line, capitalizing on a crafty box kick for his second of the night in the 56th minute to regain the lead 29-24.
NSW fought hard to gain territory, mounting a multi-phase attack before a penalty was awarded in the 63rd. Foley stepped up to make it a two-point game by slotting his second penalty of the night, the scores now sitting at 29-27.
After the substitutions rolled on for both sides including Brad Wilkin for his NSW debut, the home team looked to close out the match with a Damian McKenzie penalty conversion in the 73rd minute.
With the Chiefs leading 32-27 with the clock fast approaching the 80-minute mark, the NSW Waratahs looked to mount one last attempt at victory however, was marred by some formidable Chiefs defence that forced a handling error.
The home team were close out the night’s scoring, flyhalf Damian McKenzie a try after the bell to bring the final score 39-27.
The NSW Waratahs will face the Queensland Reds next Saturday, June 2 at Suncorp Stadium, in round 16 of the Super Rugby.
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