Rugby-Waratahs fight back to end Super Rugby losing streak

SYDNEY, March 1 (Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs mounted a stirring second-half comeback to end their nine-game Super Rugby losing streak with a 31-26 win over the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.

The Rebels had looked on course for a first win over their fellow Australians when Ged Robinson's try helped them to take a halftime lead in Sydney.

However, Bernard Foley, Michael Hooper and Paddy Ryan scored second-half tries to give the Waratahs their first Super Rugby win since a 30-21 victory over the same opponents in April last year.

Kurtley Beale touched down in the final minute to earn the Rebels a losing bonus point and his fellow Wallabies back James O'Connor converted to complete a personal haul of 16 points.

Brendan McKibbin kicked the home side's other 16 points before limping off with some seven minutes left.

The Rebels have lost two of three matches this season but the Waratahs look to be heading the right way after two games.

Although the Waratahs' second-half performance suggests they should at least challenge for a place in the end-of-season playoffs, they were unable to gain a foothold in the first half on a rain-lashed pitch.

The Rebels' breakthrough came after Tatafu Polota-Nau was yellow-carded for repeatedly offending at the breakdown.

The ball was popped back to Robinson from a smart short lineout move and the hooker went over unopposed in the corner.

"We probably made it hard for ourselves but we kept playing," Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said. "It was poor discipline really. We had to keep backing ourselves and not look at the scoreboard."

O'Connor's conversion made it 13-3 and an exchange of penalties between O'Connor and McKibbin meant it was 16-6 at the interval.

Foley crossed following a break created by Kane Douglas, Hooper rounded off a slick passing move to put the home side ahead and Ryan pumped his way through a tackle to go over from close range and score his first try in Super Rugby. (Reporting by Stuart Condie; Editing by Clare Fallon)