Waratahs make it three on the trot

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs are well and truly in finals contention, after a third consecutive win, 21-6 over the Cheetahs on Saturday night.

NSW went agonisingly close of clinching the vital bonus point that would have put them on top of the conference, with a potential Israel Folau try after full-time.

With tries to Reece Robinson and Bernard Foley in the bank and none for the Cheetahs, a third five-pointer would have secured the extra point.

A TMO review determined a Michael Hooper pass in the lead up was forward, snuffing out the Waratahs’ extra point opportunity.Forward pass? It could be costly for Waratahs. Photo: Getty ImagesThe result leaves them on equal points with conference leaders the Brumbies and holding a game in hand.

Flyhalf Foley starred for the Waratahs in his record-equalling 59th Super Rugby match as Waratahs 10, with a try and 16 points overall.

Foley’s boot put the Waratahs into an early lead, responding to an opening Cheetahs three-pointer.

It was at scrum time where the Waratahs  wielded most of their ascendancy for much of the match, a stark contrast to the rest of their season.

It was off the back of a scrum where they clinched their first try of the night, with a string of passes heading out wide for winger Reece Robinson to ground the ball just before being taken into touch.

Foley had their second six minutes later, slipping through the Cheetahs defence for his first five-pointer of the year.

With only a bonus point having the ability to put them in the Australian conference lead, the Waratahs looked to push for the line but couldn’t add to their two tries.

A penalty from Foley was the only score of the second half, in a grinding encounter.

Young fullback Andrew Kellaway continued to show his talents, pulling off a try-saving tackle in the 21st minute, pushing (Mayer) into touch.

A week of injury worries was compounded with Will Skelton making an early exit from the match, with an AC joint injury.

For captain Hooper, the greatest positive was their first shutout of the season as they kept the Cheetahs tryless.

Speaking to FOXSPORTS post-match, Hooper said they wanted to build on their set piece strength going into next week's clash against the Bulls.

“We’ve got another South African team next week. I watched them last night, another strong forward pack, good set piece and they have a strong forward pack, good set piece.

"We’ll be looking to shut that down and keep building on tonight - one of the better set piece performances over the couple of years as far as a shutout so just rolling on and building momentum from that."

Waratahs 21

(Tries: Robinson, Foley Cons: Foley 2 Cons: Foley 3)

Cheetahs 6

(Pens: Zeilinga 2)