The defending champion Reds managed to sneak a fortuitous late winner, as they edged a willing Waratahs team 25-21 in their Super Rugby showdown in Sydney on Saturday.
Wing Dom Shipperley scored the winner for the Reds with time official up on the clock, having started his run from inside his own half - beating some despairing Tahs defenders.
However, the Waratahs will regret letting this win slip through their fingers - as they had the opportunity to run down the clock, with a three-point lead, but instead kicked the ball to the Reds and paid the price.
The Waratahs struck the first blow when stand-in captain Daniel Halangahu slotted a 49-metre [penalty in the third minute, after the reds were penalised at the breakdown.
However, within minutes the Reds were on level terms - Mike Harris slotting the penalty, after Wycliff Palu failed to release the player in the tackle.
A number of penalties in quick succession - with Wycliff Palu and Tatafu Polota-Nau the main culprits - then put the Tahs on the back foot. Despite this the home team continued to show great enthusiasm and managed to avoid any major damage on the scoreboard.
As the first quarter came to an end, the Reds got a penalty at the breakdown, against Tom Carter for an incorrect entry, and Harris put his team into a 6-3 lead. He stretched that lead to six points just on the half-hour mark, as the Waratahs were again penalised at the breakdown.
However, the Reds soon got themselves into serious trouble - a well-executed Adam Ashley-Cooper kick putting the ball deep into the Reds' 22. With the Tahs piling on the pressure and some ordinary passing the ball was shunted sideways and eventually over the Reds' goalline, which earned the Waratahs and attacking scrum ... followed by a penalty, as the Reds' scrum disintegrated..
From another messy scrum, which first saw the Tahs turn the ball over and then Will Genia losing control, Palu picked up the ball and lunged forward for the opening try of the match. Halangahu was just to the left of the upright - leaving the Reds with a one-point (9-8) lead.
With the half-time hooter having already sounded, the Reds won a penalty and Harris gave his team a 12-8 half-time lead as he kept his 100 percent goal-kicking record intact.
Straight after the restart Reds hooker James Hanson was penalised at the tackle and Halangahu made it a one-point game again. However, the Tahs' lack of discipline continued to cost them - Harris slotting another penalty, after the home team was penalised at the breakdown.
The Tahs had chances to put more points on the board - first Halangahu was wide with a penalty and then Polota-Nau was called back from a certain try for what was ruled a forward pass. And then they made a real mess of a line-out just five metres from the Reds' line.
Halangahu eventually reduced the gap to one point again, with 20 minutes to go, after the Reds went offside close to their own tryline. There was a strong case to be made for a professional foul, but the visitors escaped with just conceding the points.
It was the Tahs' South African import, scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, who made the next crucial play - sniping from the base of a ruck to score the second try. Halangahu made it 21-15, with the conversion, and just over 10 minutes remaining on the clock.
With just over seven minutes on the clock the Waratahs were penalised at a scrum, a tough call considering they have been dominating the set piece all match, and Harris narrowed the gap to three points.
And then came that moment of magic - Dom Shipperley stepping his way past some sloppy Waratahs defenders, with Brackin Karauria-Henry missing the crucial tackle, and raced clear to score the match-winner. Harris kept his 100 percent kicking record intact to make it a 25-21 win for the defending champions.
Man of the match: Sarel Pretorius showed he is a good investment for the Waratahs and scored a great try, while Wycliff Palu was strong off the back of the scrums and Tatafu Polota-Nau's general play, along with some strong scrummaging, made him a valuable asset. For the Reds Will Genia was good, despite being a touch down on his usual standards, while Beau Robinson was also very enthusiastic at the breakdown. However, our award goes to Reds flyhalf Mike Harris, who kept his team in the lead with some outstanding great goal-kicking - seven-from-seven.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Palu, Pretorius
Pens: Halangahu 3
For the Reds:
Pens: Harris 6
Waratahs: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Brackin Karauria-Henry, 10 Daniel Halangahu (captain), 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Lopeti Timani, 19 Jono Jenkins, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Bernard Foley, 22 Nathan Trist.
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Van Humphries, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Radike Samo, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Jono Lance.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia
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