SYDNEY - The NSW Waratahs will meet the Crusaders in the Super 12 decider next Saturday after scoring a draining 23-13 win over the Bulls in their semi-final at Aussie Stadium tonight.

It wasn't always pretty, but the two-tries-to-one victory was enough to propel the Waratahs into their first grand final in 10 years of the competition.

Superb performances by robust NSW No.8 David Lyons and busy winger Lote Tuqiri punctuated a sturdy performance by the home side.

But the Crusaders -- who thrashed the Hurricanes 47-7 in the other semi-final last night -- won't exactly be shaking in their boots after a competent but hardly devastating performance.

The Crusaders will host the grand final in Christchurch after finishing the regular season first.

A 10-minute period before and after the halftime proved the difference for the Waratahs.

NSW scored their two tries in that time with Japan-bound centre Nathan Grey, playing his last game for the Waratahs in Sydney, a critical factor in both.

His steal from a ruck after speedy Bulls winger Bryan Habana had almost scored in the 34th minute put NSW back on the attack and eventually led to a try by centre partner Morgan Turinui.

With the Bulls ahead 13-9, Turinui hoisted a towering midfield kick and then scooped up the ball to score after the two Botha's -- Etienne and Bakkies -- allowed the ball to bounce between them.

Peter Hewat's conversion gave NSW a 16-13 lead at halftime.

Grey was in the thick of things five minutes into the second half after NSW opted against a penalty goal attempt in an attacking position.

The veteran barged over from close range giving NSW their ultimate lead.

The home side hung on grimly for much of the rest of the match as the Bulls pressed the NSW line.

It had been a nervy start for NSW with passes missing the mark and needless lineout penalties spoiling the early flow of the game.

Those nerves proved costly after 11 minutes when a blunder by Mat Rogers led to a Bulls try.

Fullback Johan Roets kicked through twice before trapping his opposite number close to the tryline.

Rogers attempted to kick the ball clear but only managed to find Roets' midriff -- the South African gladly diving on the ball to score from the chargedown.

Rogers however lifted his game like the rest of the team for the remainder of the match ensuring the Waratahs' maiden final appearance.

- AAP