Waratahs vs Force: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs took a gritty win in Sydney but what can we take out of their first up victory over the Force? 

1. One on the board

The Waratahs slumped to a 2-4 start in 2016 and it’s a record they were determined not to repeat this season. A home game against the Force was the perfect chance to get off to a winning start but it didn’t come easy. NSW now head to South Africa for a fortnight, hoping to return with three wins in a row.

2. Israel Folau-ing invisible

Look away now: Israel Folau was far from his damaging best. Photo: Getty ImagesIsrael Folau is one of the game’s biggest stars and the Force did a textbook job of shutting him down at Allianz Stadium. Conditions were not conducive for Folau’s silky skills but he barely had a chance to test it. The Waratahs centre finished with just one pass and two runs for 11 metres. Not exactly the start he would have hoped for.

3. Another night, another high tackle discussion

The implementation of World Rugby’s new tackling laws is not entirely clear at the halfway point of round one. After a seemingly uneven treatment of high contact in the Reds vs Sharks clash, Saturday’s match left another question. Bill Meakes hooked Michael Hooper as they fell at the back of a ruck in the 52nd minute, but was not yellow-carded. Intuitively, it might seem the right decision but under the global crackdown, Meakes should have been sitting in the chair for 10. The challenge for the rest of the year is to ensure referees are adjudicating consistently as much as to the letter of the law.

4. Skelton fit and firing

Look away now: Israel Folau was far from his damaging best. Photo: Getty ImagesA short-term contract with Premiership side Saracens might just have been the ticket to a super start to the Australian season for Will Skelton. The mammoth lock had the Waratahs' only try of the night in the 44th minute and was destructive in contact throughout. He's come into the season ready to go - a far cry from an injury-stilted 2016 and the Waratahs will be hoping he stays in this kind of form.

5. Few lines on the chalkboard for the Force

There are some things you can forgive in an opening round but ill-discipline is one coach killer you can ill afford. The Force coughed up five penalties in the opening 15 minutes at Allianz Stadium and though they were left off as the Waratahs returned the favour, it’s something they’ll need to address. The Meakes high contact on Hooper was borderline yellow but it was far from their only disciplinary indiscretion. Reece Robinson punished them off his boot, with five from six attempts.