The Waratahs scored eight tries as they claimed a 52-41 win over the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
It’s a win that sees the Waratahs reclaim the top spot in the Australian conference after the Rebels had leapfrogged their way to the Aussie summit when they claimed an impressive win over the Blues earlier in the day.
The opening half was a competitive affair at Suncorp Stadium, and although the Waratahs had enjoyed most of the territory and possession, they looked set to take just a two-point lead into the break after each side had recorded three tries.
However, in the final play before half-time, Waratahs fullback Israel Folau rose above his opposite number to superbly collect a perfectly-weighted crosskick from Bernard Foley, before dotting down for a crucial try that sent the visitors into a handy 28-19 lead.
Just after the restart, Nick Phipps wheeled away from the back of a 5m lineout drive to score. Minutes later, Reds lock Kane Douglas was sent to the sin bin for a cynical offence, and in his absence, Folau claimed his second try.
Suddenly, the Waratahs led 40-19, and the game looked as good as won. The Reds had other ideas, though, with Alex Mafi and Caleb Timu hitting back with impressive tries that cut the deficit back to just 11 points.
Yet the Tahs responded emphatically as Jake Gordon and Cam Clark scored to take the points tally beyond 50, although Jordan Petaia and Sef Fa’agase did claim consolation tries to ensure the Reds would deny their Aussie opponents a bonus point.
Reds – Tries: Izaia Perese, Scott Higginbotham, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, Caleb Timu, Jordan Petaia, Sef Fa’agase. Conversions: Hamish Stewart (2), Ben Lucas.
Waratahs – Tries: Curtis Rona, Michael Wells, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Israel Folau (2), Nick Phipps, Jake Gordon, Cam Clark. Conversions: Bernard Foley (6).
Reds – 15 Jono Lance, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Jordan Petaia, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Kane Douglas , 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Liam Wright, 22 Ben Lucas, 23 Jayden Ngamanu.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Will Miller, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway , 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Photo: Dave Molloy/@NSWWaratahs