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Anne Photograp News 2024

Moana Pasifika officially ends Waratahs finals hopes
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Moana Pasifika officially ends Waratahs finals hopes

Moana Pasifika kept their finals hopes alive with a 27-12 win over the NSW Waratahs in Auckland.

The hosts produced one of their best performances of the season to punish the Waratahs and leave them on the edge of the wooden spoon.

Moana Pasifika took a 14-0 lead into the break when late introduction Kyren Taumoefolau tormented their defense.

Legendary prop Sekope Kepu dived towards them for an emotional try to give them a commanding lead.

Two late tries for the Waratahs gave them brief hope, but the hosts held on to win.

The Waratahs were wiped out of all their contracted front rowers and always faced an uphill battle, having to compete physically with the bruising Moana Pasifika forwards.

And it showed as Pasifika opened a match-winning 27-0 lead within the hour in the first four tries.

Powerhouse No. 8 Lotu Inisi scored a double after fullback Kyren Taumoefolau crossed for the opening try in the 15th minute.

Inspirational former Waratahs and Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu brought the house down when he charged forward to put the icing on the cake.

The Waratahs had to settle for two late consolation tries against Langi Gleeson and center Izaia Perese.

While the Tahs can start planning for 2025, Moana’s fourth win of the season has given them a slim hope of making the finals if they can topple struggling defending champions the Crusaders in Christchurch next week.

The defeat of four tries to two on Saturday at the G0 Media Stadium left the last-placed Tahs with no mathematical hope of reaching the final.

Instead, they must beat the Queensland Reds in their final game of the season at Allianz Stadium next Friday to avoid outgoing coach Darren Coleman being sent off with the dreaded wooden spoon.

Pasifika 27 (Trying: Taumoefolau, Inisi 2, Kepu; Cons: Havili 2; Pens: Havili) def Warata’s 12 (Trying: Perese, Gleeson; Cons: Bowen)

Teams:

Moana: 15 Danny Toala, 14 Fine Inisi, 13 Pepesana Patafilo, 12 Julian Savea, 11 Neria Fomai, 10 William Havili, 9 Aisea Halo, 8 Lotu Inisi, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Jacob Norris, 5 Allan Craig, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Samiuela Moli, 1 Abraham Pole.

Replacements: 16 Tomasi Maka, 17 Tevita Langi, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Ola Tauelangi, 20 Alamanda Motuga, 21 Siaosi Nginingini, 22 Christian Lealiifano, 23 Jenry Taefu.

Waratas: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Langi Gleeson, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Hugh Sinclair, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Brad Amituanai, 2 Jay Fonokalafi, 1 Harry Lloyd.

Replacements: 16 Ben Sugars, 17 Lewis Ponini, 18 Mike Scott, 19 Miles Amatosero, 20 Fergus Lee-Warner, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Jack Bowen, 23 Vuate Karawelevu.

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant referees: Ruben Keane, George Myers

TMO: Brett Cronan