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'Last few years have been hell': Iceman 2.0 Harrison gets 'dream come true' in Tahs' stunning golden point win

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12th April, 2024
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Hey Joe, did you see that? The Wallabies could have a new No.10 contender in Will Harrison, who rose to the occasion brilliantly as the Waratahs beat the Crusaders 43-40 in golden point in Sydney on Friday, having been two seconds away from defeat.

Harrison, just three games back after almost two years on the sideline due to injury, kicked a clutch goal after the siren to secure extra time and then snapped the winning drop goal to end the game.

It was the Tahs’ second golden point experience this season – they lost to Fijian Drua on the road earlier this season.

It was also the Tahs’ second win this season – both have been against the defending champions.

“The really impressive thing about Harro is how long he was out for, he works very hard. To see his growth, to be able to ice games like that is pretty special,” said Tahs skipper Jake Gordon.

Tane Edmed started at flyhalf and kicked nine from nine and was very tidy in a tense match, but Darren Coleman swung a change on 56 minutes. This display of calmness under pressure must surely have thrust a new name into the log jam of young guns battling for the Wallabies No.10 jersey this year.

Will Harrison of the Waratahs celebrates kicking the winning field goal in golden point during the round eight Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Crusaders at Allianz Stadium, on April 12, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Will Harrison of the Waratahs celebrates kicking the winning field goal in golden point. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“It’s crazy. The last few years, to be honest have been hell,” said Harrison. “That’s helped me in these moments. I’ve been in so many uncomfortable positions in my life the last couple of years.

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“To come in tonight it’s uncomfortable but obviously exciting to get over the line. It’s all worth it. I wouldn’t change a thing.

“It’s what dreams are made of to be honest. I spent so much time down the local park kicking field goals, penalty goals, match winners, playing for the Waratahs and to be on the big stage tonight and to come up trumps, I can’t believe it.”

The Tahs were celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their Super Rugby final win over the Crusaders, where the Iceman, Bernard Foley kicked a decisive penalty.

So is Harrison the new Iceman, asked Michael Atkinson on Stan Sport? “Nah, I don’t know about that!”

Heavy clouds have hung over both teams and their coaches this season but the metaphoric clouds parted and the light shone on a special game where the lead changed 13 times.

The game started on fire with Sevu Reece winning a turn over from the kick off and soon after racing over for the opening try with just 55 seconds gone.

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The Tahs fans barely had a chance to groan before their team was right back in it. Lalakai Foketi gave an inside pass to Dylan Pietsch and the winger had Lachie Swinton roaring up in support. He finished the try with a gleeful swan dive.

Reece was over for his second on nine minutes, finishing it off by ploughing straight through Tahs fullback Max Jorgensen, the veteran packing all the power and pace of a hungry rhino.

It was Reece’s 52nd try for the Crusaders – bringing him level with club legend Caleb Ralph at the top of the team’s scoring charts.

“He’s got spiders on him that bloke,” said Jed Holloway. “He’s dangerous, he skips around and he’s a helluva player. And for someone who is small in stature he’s bloody strong as well.”

Tane Edmed potted two penalties to regain the lead at 13-12 before Reece was involved again with a couple of bursts of twinkling feet. He began with a few goosesteps in midfield, got involved again near the right touchline and had enough skill to keep the ball alive to set up Dallas McLeod for a try.

Izaia Perese of the NSW Waratahs is tackled by Ethan Blackadder of the Crusaders during the round eight Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Crusaders at Allianz Stadium, on April 12, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Izaia Perese of the NSW Waratahs is tackled by Ethan Blackadder of the Crusaders. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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After a succession of penalties and lineouts the Tahs put on a lineout variation – Jed Holloway throwing the ball back to Swinton and the Tahs catching the Crusaders off guard sufficiently for the returning Ned Hanigan to drive over for the try.

The Tahs should probably have added another in time added on at the end of the first half. Charlie Gamble got across the line but Crusaders halfback Noah Hotham did superbly well to hold the ball up.

A couple of Crusaders penalty goals early in the half put the visitors five points in front while the Tahs were lucky to escape a try concession when Levi Aumua went over but it was pulled back for a forward pass in the lead up.

Harrison came on to replace Edmed on 56 minutes and was instantly involved as the Tahs backline burst through soon after. Although the Crusaders defence scrambled, they couldn’t deny powerful Pietsch from close range.

Harrison nailed the pressure kick from the sideline for a 30-28 lead, but it lasted just three minutes before Mitch Drummond gave the Crusaders a 33-30 lead.

“It’s intense out there. It’s a battle. Both teams are desperate for a win,” said Holloway on the Stan coverage. “Strap in”.

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The Waratahs celebrate with Will Harrison of the Waratahs after he kicked the winning field goal in golden point during the round eight Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Crusaders at Allianz Stadium, on April 12, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Waratahs celebrate with Will Harrison. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Tahs unleashed another attack and their execution was pitch perfect. It ended with Julian Heaven driving over for a try, converted by Harrison. Tim Horan couldn’t help himself: “That’s a slice of Heaven! Match made in heaven!”

That should have been enough but the Crusaders found yet another gear. Reece was set free down the left and nearly scored only for a fabulous chase from Jorgensen and the Tahs forced the ball in goal. From the scrum Christian Lio-Willie scarpered over.

The conversion attempt came with two seconds left on the clock and the Tahs had a lifeline. They regathered from the kickoff and as they stretched the defence Crusaders’ winger Johnny McNicholl was penalised for an intentional knock down.

With all the pressure on his shoulders, Harrison kicked over the penalty for 40-40. He had to stand up again, and did just that.

“He’s got a great story – the injury, the coming back,” said coach Coleman. “It was a tight decision if we started him this week and he did what he does. He’s an accurate kicker all the time under all types of pressure.”

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