Live blog: Waratahs v Reds

Welcome to tonight's coverage of Super Rugby's Australian Conference grudge match between the NSW Waratahs and reigning champions the Queensland Reds. RugbyHeaven's editor Stephen Samuelson is in the chair.

It was a bit like a game of one-day cricket. The match had its doldrums, the first half was dire, but a thrilling finish has capped a great night.

The second-half was a lot better, but perhaps NSW coach Michael Foley erred. He pretty much cleared his bench and maybe those changes led to the final try. Certinaly McKibbin could have demanded a couple of pick-and-drives from his forwards with 27 seconds left before booted the ball out. Instead he kicked it - and to be fair found space - but the Reds had the ball and they scored a couple of phases later.

After the siren: Harris kicks the conversion. REDS 25 TAHS 21.

80th min: One minute to go and the Reds have gone through 11 phases running it out from their tryline. But thy lose it and McKibbin box kicks. The Reds start again and it is a TRY and the Reds have stolen the game with a runaway try after the siren. Dom Shipperley breaks away and the cover of Bernard Foley cannot stop him. REDS WINS 23-21 with a meaningless kick to come.

77th min: Bernard Foley has Tahs fans twitching as he kicks for the sideline. Will go out on the full. NO! The Tahs win the lineout and they are eight metres out. But they concede the penalyt while in possesion.

75th min: McKibbin shows he has some spark too. He snipes from the ruck and a run around movement puts Horne away. He kicks down field and the reds are forced to kick it out. The Reds win the lineout and Ben Lucase unleashes a huge kick but it goes too far. Touch in-goal and the srum will be set 48 metres out from the Reds's line. Four minutes to go.

73rd min: They were off the hook for all of one minute. A scrum penalty gifts an easy three points to the Reds. Harris lines it up and kicks it. TAHS 21 REDS 18.

72nd min: A forward pass by Genia -no, really - lets the Tahs of the hook - for now.

70th min: Can the Tahs close the game out. The Reds have not got too close to their tryline and one thinks it will take five-pointer for the Queenslanders to win this game. The Tahs concede a penalty on halfway and the Reds will go on the attack. The quality of the play has been a lot better in the second-half although both teams have lots of room for improvement.

66th min: TRY! Pretorius snipes from the ruck base is tackled but his first play of the ball is to plant it over the line. Pretorius put the Tahs on the attack in the first place by unleashing Halangahu through a gap. Pretorius is replaced by McKibbin and Halangahu converts. TAHS 21 REDS 15.

62nd min: The Tahs immedately apply pressure to themselves from the restart. Peyper misses a blatant knock-on as Harris sneaks through an opening. The Tahs shut up shop and eventually force the error. They have the scrum feed in their own 22.

60th min: The Tahs pile on the pressure with Halangahu and Mumm both stopped just shy of the line. The Reds have constantly infringed and Peyper has no choice but to give the penalty. Halangahu grabs the three points. Polota-Nau is off, Fitzpatrick on. REDS 15 TAHS 14.

58th min: Digby Ioane has unleashed and almighty hit on Rob Horne but it looks like the Reds winger is worse off. Ioane hit stopped a promising counter-attack by the Tahs after Genia's attempted box kixk landed ontop of the ruck that he was on the base off. The Tahs get the penalty because the Reds were all offside. Pretty hard to retreat 10 metres from the bottom of a ruck.

56th min: Palu and Kepu are replaced.

55th min: But there is another penalty and at the scrum. Halangahu opts for the lineout rather than the kick. Robinson, Schatz and Daley off for the Reds. Samo, Gill and Holmes on. The Tahs lose the lineout.

54th min: It looks like a runaway Polota-Nau try but it aint. Tom Kingston and Digby Ioane go up for a high ball and the ball skews to the side and TPN charges onto to the ball. Peyper rules that it went forward. An arguable decision.

52nd min: This game may well be decided by penalties. Dom Shipperley concedes the penalty at the breakdown and Halangahu steps up from 42 metres out. He misses.

50th min: A bit of innovation by the Reds. A crossfield kick for Horwill and it's Polota-Nau who tries to stop it. Some messy play before the Tahs breathe easy with the ball out.

48th min: Nervous moments for the Reds. A Harris kick is charged down and the Reds just hold on to the ball. Harris's second clearance attempt is touched and the ball goes into touch. But the Tahs concede their 10th penalty from the lineout and now the Reds are on in the attack.

46th min: Harris just nails that kick and the margin is back out again to four. REDS 15 TAHS 11.

45th min: The Reds are enjoying their first prolonged stay in the Waratahs quarter. Sloppy handling in the backline thwarts any attempt of a try but Jaco Peyper finds a penalty and Harris will step up to the tee.

42nd min: Bright start for the Waratahs. From the restart they secure the ball after a Reds kick through but a penalty is give and Halangahu does the rest. REDS 12 TAHS 11.

40th min: There's not much time left in the first half but there is enough for the Tahs to concede a penalty in front of the posts. Harris has not problem scoring his 12th point of the half. REDS 12 TAHS 8.

38th min: TRY! Wycliff Palu and what a comedy of errors. The Tahs apply the push in the scrum and the ball squirts out for Genia. Pretorius nabs him and strips the ball from his grasp and at the ensuing breakdown the ball pops out for Palu who strolls five metres to crash over wide out. Halangahu just misses with the conversion. REDS 9 TAHS 8. This really is an awful game.

36th min: No mucking around from Peyper. It's a penalty to the Tahs immediately. The Tahs opt for a reset. Is this Suncorp 2011 all over again.

35th min: Oh dear! What were the Reds thinking. Adam Ashley-Cooper places a beautiful kick downfield and the Reds spread it along the goalline but the pass to Genia goes loose and Shipperley is forced to ground it under the pressure of Rob Horne's tackle. 5 metre scrum, Tahs feed.

33rd min: The Tahs concede another breakdown penalty and Harris makes no mistake. Reds 9 Waratahs 3.

30th min: The Reds are eeking themselves on top in this game. Slowly, but surely. They are beginning to find space in the midfield with Harris and Tapaui. The handling is loppy and the Tahs' kicking is now aimless. They are feeling the pressure.

25th min: Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Ioane makes up for his error with a superb take of the high ball. He beats five players before losing the ball. The Tahs counterattack and Rob Horne is almost through but the ball inexplicably slips from his grasp.

24th min: At last a bust from the mid field. It's Harris that sparks it. A great inside ball to Hanson and the Reds are away until Digby Ioane drops the ball 40 metres upfield.

22nd min: The Reds kick the penalty. Mike Harris 6 Daniel Halangahu 3.

20th min: There's no penetration midfield for either side so the Tahs try the flanks except Halangahu's cutout pass finds the assistant referee. But the Tahs concede a penalty in possession.

17th min: Chris Alcock forces a turnover in the 22 and the Tahs are off the hook ... for now. Reds win the lineout but some slopy handling gives the Tahs the scrum feed on halfway.

15th min: The Reds's best winger Scott Higginbotham does some brilliant work on the right flank. How he stayed in I will never know, but the Tahs give away yet another penalty and the Reds are on the attack with the lineout throe 25 metres out.

14th min: Palu falls for a Beau Robinson sucker punch and gives away a silly penalty.

12th min: The Tahs were treading water for a while but a clever cut out pass lets Tom Kingston loose on the left flank. The Reds are offside but the Tahs spin it. Too many front rowers in the backline and the ball ends up being knocked on by Palu. Advantage over. Reds scrum holds up.

9th min: The Tahs are dominant in the scrum and they are on the attack on Queensland's 22. A sloppy knock-on lets the Reds off the hook far too easily.

7th min: Harris makes no mistake and it's 3-3. Simmons coughs up possession from the restart, first scrum of the game.

5th min: The Reds force a turnover and they are recylcing possession 40 metres out from NSW's line. Trouble brewing for the Tahs. Referee Jaco Peyper intervenes and gives a penalty. Harris has a chance to equalise. The game has yet to hit any great heights. They are feeling each other out.

4th min: Nervous start by the Reds. Pretorius is piling on the pressure with clever kicking.

2nd min: The Tahs get an early penalty and skipper Daniel Halangahu steps up for shot from 48 metres out and he kicks it. NSW 3 Qld 0.

Outstanding ... A fan dresses up for Chabal. Photo: Getty Images

7.32pm: The players are out on the field. The key for NSW tonight is Sarel Pretorius. If the South African can fire, they are in with a chance.

Curtain-raiser: Balmain has beaten Petersham 19-5 with the Caveman, Sebastian Chabal, scoring a try with six minutes to go.

Preamble (read pre-match filler): The Reds may be missing Quade Cooper but it's the Tahs who have the real injury concerns with Wallabies' Lachie Turner, Drew Mitchell, Berrick Barnes, Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman all missing while Sitaleki Timani has yet to return from Japan.

Mike Harris should prove to be an excellent replacement for Cooper.

Greg Growden writes: The Waratahs are without Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Dan Vickerman, Rocky Elsom, Lachie Turner and Sitaleki Timani, and Tah Man was even limping at last Friday's trial, and they remain favourites. Madness. The Reds are specials.

AAP writes: The Waratahs went into the Super Rugby season as equal favourites with defending premiers Queensland for the title. However, their depleted line-up for round one is a far cry from the side they would have been anticipating. Backline stars like Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner are sidelined and it's up to back-up No.10 Daniel Halangahu to run the show. However, this match will be a forward battle, and the Waratahs have certainly proven in the past they can match the Reds physically in the engine room. Queensland have Mike Harris filling Quade Cooper's shoes at five-eighth and have indicated they'll tone down their flamboyant style and attempt to win 'ugly'. The Waratahs are depleted, but it's a massive opportunity for new recruits Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sarel Pretorius to shine.

Waratahs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom Kingston, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Brackin Karauria-Henry, Daniel Halangahu (c), Sarel Pretorius, Wycliff Palu, Chris Alcock, Dave Dennis, Dean Mumm, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Damien Fitzpatrick, Paddy Ryan, Lopeti Timani, Jono Jenkins, Brendan McKibbin, Bernard Foley, Nathan Trist.

Reds: Luke Morahan, Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Digby Ioane, Mike Harris, Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Beau Robinson, Scott Higginbotham, James Horwill (c), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Ben Daley. Reserves: Albert Anae, Greg Holmes, Van Humphries, Radike Samo, Liam Gill, Ben Lucas, Jono Lance