Waratahs beat Crusaders for first Super Rugby title win
The New South Wales Waratahs celebrate after defeating the Canterbury Crusaders in the Super Rugby final in Sydney on August 2, 2014. - by William West
Fly-half Foley landed the pressure 45-metre penalty to deliver the Waratahs a fighting 33-32 win over the seven-time champion Crusaders and end a 19-year wait for a southern hemisphere provincial title.
It was the Waratahs' first Super Rugby title after losing both their previous finals to the Crusaders in 2005 and 2008.
It culminated a sensational finish to the season for the Waratahs, winning their last nine matches and going through the season unbeaten at home.
The Crusaders looked headed for their eighth Super Rugby crown when fly-half Colin Slade put them in front with a penalty goal in the 76th minute.
But the never-say-die Waratahs fought their way into the Crusaders' half and earned their winning kick at goal when All Black skipper Richie McCaw was penalised in a maul.
Foley's kick just cleared the crossbar to put the Waratahs back in front in the final minute, much to the delight of the record crowd for a Super Rugby final of 61,823.
Foley finished with 23 points from a conversion and seven penalties with Wallaby back Adam Ashley-Cooper scoring a try double for the Waratahs.
"The kick was right on my borderline, there wasn't much left in it and I had to give it everything, the rugby Gods were smiling and it just snuck over," Foley said of his winning kick.
"We have been working on getting more distance in my kicking and normally Kurtley Beale takes the longer kicks but I was hitting them well and thought I just had to give it everything.
"To win it like that is a dream come true and it hasn't sunk in yet."
- Last-gasp winner -
The Waratahs began positively and led 14-0 in the opening 15 minutes only for the Crusaders to regroup and hit back to trail 20-13 at halftime.
The Crusaders looked to have the winning momentum and led 26-23 heading into the final quarter of the match.
But Ashley-Cooper went over for his second try off a Beale pass capping off 10 phases and Foley's conversion gave the Waratahs a 30-26 lead.
But Slade kicked two more penalties to put the Crusaders in sight of another Super Rugby triumph only for Foley's last-gasp winner.
"To get the Crusaders in a final it needed an awesome effort from the guys and I'm so proud of them," Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said.
"We had to adapt during the match and grind out that win and I thought Bernie's (Foley) kick went under the bar, but it went over and we were ecstatic."
Skipper Kieran Read said his Crusaders team felt gutted to lose such a titanic struggle.
"We didn't come here for this result, but you have to give full credit to NSW, when you give them the lead that we did it's very hard to run down.
"We probably didn't handle that pressure early on and let them get a roll on and it was a case for us to get our hands on the ball and creating our own pressure.
"In the second half we probably controlled it and they had that one opportunity and they took it."
It was the Sydneysiders first win over the Crusaders in their last 12 meetings with the Kiwi king-pins with their previous success coming in 2004.
Slade finished with 20 points from a conversion and six penalties, while giant winger Nemani Nadolo scored a controversial try on a television match official adjudication and flanker Matt Todd scored in the first half.
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