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Tahs steal golden-point win over Crusaders

The Crusaders' Super Rugby Pacific season of struggle added another chapter of woe on Friday night.

Having taken a three-point lead in the final minute, the Crusaders gave up a game-tying penalty after time was up and then a match-winning drop-goal in golden-point extra-time to lose 43-40 to the NSW Waratahs at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.

Replacement No 8 Christian Lio-Willie charged to the short side off the back of a 5m scrum to score what looked like the match-winning try at 79:01.

Reserve first-five Rivez Reihana booted the conversion from out-wide but for a 40-37 lead, but took the kick a second or two too early, meaning there would be a restart despite the clock ticking past 80 minutes.

The Crusaders failed to corral the kick-off, with the Waratahs taking it over halfway and then attacking to the left. Crusaders wing Johnny McNicholl was yellow-carded after deliberately knocking down a pass.

Replacement Waratahs first-five Will Harrison stepped up, extending the match with a 40m penalty and then winning it with a drop-goal from the 22 in the fourth minute of the extra session.

Christian Lio-Willie Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific
Christian Lio-Willie looked to have sealed the Crusaders win with less than 60 seconds remaining. PHOTO: SUPER RUGBY

In an instant classic that featured 12 lead changes, the two teams combined for nine tries and scored at a point a minute.

An expansive first half set the tone for the night and All Blacks wing Sevu Reece was in everything for the Crusaders. The right wing opening the scoring inside a minute after Dylan Pietsch had the ball raked out of his hands from the kick-off.

With his second try, Reece joined Caleb Ralph atop the Crusaders' try-scoring list with 52 tries, and then set up the visitors' third try for second-five Dallas McLeod by breaking free down the right, putting them up 19-13.

The Waratahs' best set play of the first half, a driving maul, helped Ned Hanigan to a try of his own and the hosts nearly scored the same way again just before the break, taking a 23-22 lead into the sheds.

The Crusaders took a 28-23 lead after 57 minutes on the back of two Riley Hohepa penalties, and again 33-30 when Mitchell Drummond scored in the 63rd minute.

In Round 9, the Crusaders (1-0-6, seven points) head to Perth to face the Western Force (1-0-6, five points) in another bottom-of-the-table clash next Saturday (kick-off 9.35pm).

Earlier in the night, Moana Pasifika moved into the top-eight for the first time with a 17-14 victory over the Queensland Reds, who had two players red-carded in the second half, at Whangarei's Semenoff Stadium.

NSW Waratahs 43 (Lachlan Swinton, Ned Hanigan, Dylan Pietsch, Julian Heaven tries; Tane Edmed 2 con, 3 pen, Will Harrison 2 con, pen, drop goal) Crusaders 40 (Sevu Reece 2, Dallas McLeod, Mitchell Drummond, Christian Lio-Willie tries; Riley Hohepa 2 con, pen, Rivez Reihana con). HT: 23-22


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