Waratahs vs Reds: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

1. Hooper sets the pace

He’s only recently been installed as the Waratahs permanent team captain but Michael Hooper showed unequivocally why he is in that position. Did not miss a beat in the opening derby, scored the Waratahs’ first try, had a try assist and was typically dangerous in the breakdown.

2. Reds set piece still a plus

Their attack might be disjointed, as their fledgling combinations continue to build, but the Reds showed they can still threaten in the set piece when they have the chance. They managed to win a tighthead midway through the first half with one less forward than their opponents, as captain Rob Simmons watched on from the bench. When Sam Talakai was sent to the bin in the 70th minute, the Reds were once again a man down but were more than competitive in the scrum. Set piece was a major strength for them in 2015 and it looks to be shaping up similarly in the new year.

3. The kids are alright

David Horwitz has worked his way through the NSW Rugby academy before making his Super Rugby debut on Saturday night and he capped his debut in the perfect way. The 21-year-old found himself on the end of a positive Waratahs attacking play, dotting the ball down under the posts to score in his first Super Rugby game. A big tick for the pathways, that one. On the other side, Jake Mcintyre scored a try as he continues to try and prove his prospects as Queensland's flyhalf.

4. Fans don't mind a bit of defence

The Waratahs showed their exciting qualities in their attacking end but a couple of key defensive moments lit up the match as well. When Kurtley Beale stopped a charging Chris Feauai-Sautia in his tracks, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

5. Goro fever moving south

If the 10 Japanese journalists in the Allianz Stadium didn’t give it away, the pocked of Japanese fans through the crowd showed the fascination with Ayumu Goromaru. He was injected into the game in the 26th minute and showed composure in his time on the field. His booming kick put the Waratahs under pressure, something that was vital for the Reds.