The Waratahs will leave South Africa with some unwanted records, after a loss to the Sharks.
Here's what we learned from the Durban clash.
1. Folau finding his way
He’s had a slow start to the season, but Israel Folau showed glimpses of his best against the Sharks. Two tries provided some of the few positives for NSW in a tough night out and he looked dangerous with almost every touch of the ball. The outside centre finished with 112 run metres off 19 carries, beating four defenders along the way. It’s a strong step forward for Folau, who needs to be making an impact every week if the Waratahs want to fire.
2. Bosch cleans up
Thrust into his first home ground action in Durban, schoolboy prodigy Curwin Bosch looked like a seasoned campaigner. The Sharks certainly didn’t lose anything off the boot when the 19-year-old replaced Pat Lambie, kicking eight from eight. A superb intercept try made his points tally 27, in an influential performance.
3. Not so mellow yellow
The Waratahs bemoaned their poor discipline against the Lions during the week, with defence coach Nathan Grey demanding a better effort in Durban. That didn’t last long, though, with a Jack Dempsey yellow card coming in the 11th minute, with the Waratahs on their way to the wrong side of an 11-6 penalty count.
4. Overseas opponents the ultimate test
Australian derby wins are important but to make it through to the finals, and potentially win Super Rugby, you need to beat overseas opponents. The Waratahs will leave South Africa without a win for the first time in five years, their only 2017 victory having come over the Force in round one. At the end of round three, Australian teams have just one win from six attempts in the opening three rounds. South African tours are no cake walk, that’s indisputable, but Australia’s Super Rugby franchises have done themselves few favours, amid a wide-ranging Super Rugby review.
5. Only way is up for Waratahs
Sunday’s Sharks loss relegated the Waratahs to their first South Africa duck since 2012 and the only South African tour they’ve finished without a bonus point in Super Rugby history. It leaves them with a 1-2 record to start the season, and a need to turn things around immediately. Back-to-back Australian derbies against the Brumbies and Rebels will be critical as they try to build some momentum, before meeting the Crusaders at Allianz Stadium, in round six and the defending champion Hurricanes after that.