Only two points separated the teams at the end, but don’t be fooled by a Waratahs second half comeback in going down 32-30 to the five-time Super 12 champion Crusaders outfit.
The Crusaders, starting with a full-strength team, blitzed the Tahs 27-3 in the opening 40 minutes. Crusaders coach Robbie Deans then made wholesale changes and this let the Tahs back into the game with a three try to one second half dominance.
Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie knew the reality of the match was not reflected in a two-pointer.
“We wanted a thorough exam, that’s why we played the Crusaders, and we certainly got one,” he told the media. “If you want to call it a reality check you can call it that.
“But we won’t be going into the competition in a deluded state of mind about what is ahead of us.”
Reports from the match suggest Wendell Sailor will be a hit in his new blue strip. Sailor was credited for his skill on attack and for inspiring the Waratahs fightback.
Mose Tuiali’i scored first for the Crusaders, Ross Filipo added a second and Aaron Mauger scored the third of the first half, while Leon Macdonald added the fourth on halftime.
Shaun Berne and Rocky Elsom scored to reduce the deficit to 27-20 but Tuiali’i added a fifth for the Crusaders.
Wycliffe Palu then added to the excitement with a 65th minute score and Peter Hewat’s conversion and penalty on 69 minutes meant it was a two point ball game for the last 11 minutes.
The reality, though, was in the first 40 minutes when the Crusaders showed their season’s intent.