The Crusaders may have recorded their first win of the year, but they may have paid a dear price for the result.
Replacement Tom Taylor scored a late penalty to see the seven-time champions, the Crusaders, win 16-14 in a dour outing in Sydney on Thursday.
However, the departure of All Black flyhalf in the first half with a knee injury will be the cause of some sleepless nights in the Crusaders coaching camp.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder confirmed that Carter left the field with a "corked knee", but played down the severity and said the injury was "nothing serious".
The win over the Waratahs follow earlier defeats to the Hurricanes (26-27) and Highlanders (21-38_ by the Crusaders.
The Waratahs declined a whopping nine kickable penalty shots at goal, as coach Michael Cheika stuck with his policy for the trials of not taking three-pointers - as they looked to get their attack fine-tuned ahead of their Super Rugby opener against the reds next Saturday.
Blackadder said the trial was a typical scrappy affair for this time of the year.
"These pre-season games are all like this," the Crusaders mentor told a post-match media briefing.
"We were pretty disjointed and pretty messy and for the last two weeks we've just been doing the same sort of thing.
"You just try and play with some structure, try some moves," he said.
"There's some things that need tweaking but nothing major, everything's in place."
Despite limited possession, the Crusaders got out to a 10-0 lead, thanks to a Dan Carter penalty and a close-range converted try from prop Pa'ea Fanunu, scored with 24 minutes on the clock.
Enjoying plenty of ball, the Waratahs' backline showed some nice touches, with wing Tom Kingston and fullback Israel Folau, voted Man of the Match, looking dangerous on the run.
And with the new combinations starting to gel, NSW's first scoring chance came on quarter time thanks to a nice blindside break from Drew Mitchell, a blood replacement for Kingston, set up by a driven line-out.
Although they failed to find the tryline, the Waratahs managed to successfully contain the Crusaders' midfield, who created just one real scoring chance through a break from fullback Israel Dagg, who was hauled down 10 metres short by speedster Kingston.
A Taylor penalty gave the visitors a 13-0 lead at the break but the home side started the second period strongly, threatening the Crusaders' line on several occasions, with big runners Wycliff Palu and Sita Timani among a number to make good yards.
It took 20 minutes before they finally found a way through, with Lopeti Timani battering his way over in the right hand corner. Brendan McKibbin's conversion closed the gap to six points, before a second converted try, this time from replacement prop Paddy Ryan, put the home side ahead for the first time after 68 minutes.
With eight minutes remaining, a second Taylor sealed the victory for the Crusaders.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Timani, Ryan
Cons: McKibbin 2
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Carter, T Taylor 2
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Tom Kingston, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 David Hickey, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Mitchell Chapman, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Luke Holmes, John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Jeremy Tilse, Brendan McKibbin, James Hilgendorf, Cam Crawford, Michael Hodge, Drew Mitchell, Michael Hooper, Jed Holloway, Lopeti Timani, Kane Douglas, Greg Peterson
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements - from: Codie Taylor, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Tom Marshall, Telusa Veianu, Shane Christie, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)