Waratahs show spark in trial win

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs have finished their preseason on a high, with a 47-5 win over the Rebels at Brookvale Oval.

NSW ran in 47 unanswered points at Brookvale Oval in the teams' final trial for 2018, with six of those tries coming in the second half, after holding a 7-5 lead at the main break.

Both sides had missed chances in the opening quarter, with fumbles and a forward pass costing them the opportunity to score.

Jed Holloway. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyNSW had almost all the territory early but a patchy set piece meant they were unable to convert that, an issue that will be ringing some alarm bells as they prepare to open their Super Rugby season against two South African sides.

“We'd be a bit disappointed with some of our execution tonight,” Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said.

"Early on we lost three lineouts, (that) didn't allow us to get in the game in terms of sustained pressure and keeping possession.

"So, a little bit of work will go into that.

"We purposely didn't show a great deal tonight around our lineout, we didn't want to reveal too much and that kind of backfired."

 In a bruising outing, both teams were offering plenty of niggle, but it took until the 26th minute for either side to score, Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese finishing off a rolling maul to break the duck.

It took just three minutes for Waratahs captain Michael Hooper to respond, snatching an intercept off a Michael Ruru pass and running more than 60 metres to score.

The Rebels opened the second half with an extra burst of energy and looked close to scoring before a Reece Hodge knock on just short of the try line.

Both sides lifted the tempo in the second half, and it was the Waratahs who drew first blood with a pinpoint cross-field Bernard Foley kick landing in Folau’s hands, for the fullback to fall over the line.

Replacement Waratahs prop Shambeckler Vui finished off a rolling maul in the 58th minute to stretch NSW’s lead, making the most of a two-man advantage after two Rebels yellow cards, to Sione Tuipulotu and Michael Ruru.

There was plenty of feeling at Brookvale Oval. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyLalakai Foketi did his starting chances a favour, finishing off a slick attacking chain and collecting a Folau pass to score and put the Waratahs 19 points up at the final change.

The Waratahs rotated most of their returning Wallabies off at the final break, but it didn’t stop their momentum, as they notched six second half tries to finish just short of the 50-point barrier.

A desperate Mack Mason tackle stopped a potential Rebels score and the Waratahs went down the other end for Alex Newsome to score the final try.

The match wasn’t devoid of injury concerns, with Waratahs hooker Damien Fitzpatrick coming off with a knee injury just four minutes into the match and lock Rob Simmons replaced by Ned Hanigan just short of half-time.

Simmons had a gash to the head but his replacement was precautionary, with the lock having had little sleep after his wife gave birth to their first child at 1am on Thursday morning.

Neither coach was taking too much weight from the score line after the game, despite the lopsided scoreline.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said there was plenty to improve from that performance.

"We had opportunities, which we didn't really take through poor execution and skill," he said.

"At times, the ball looked like it was a cake of soap, both teams couldn't really hold on to it.

"It wasn't until the game broke up a little - the second half, we got some better ruck speed and some go forward, the game turned our way."

Israel Folau didn't miss a beat in his return to the field. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyRebels coach Dave Wessels was happy for his team to come out without any injuries.

"We took a lot of ball off them and we did really what we wanted at lineout time and then obviously went down to 13 men and a lot of our young guys were on it was disappointing a little bit," he said.

"To be honest, I'm not really too fussed about that. We did what we came her eto do.

"We walked away with no injuries, so I'm feeling pretty good about that."

Rebels skipper Adam Coleman came off just before half-time, but Wessels dismissed any concern about the lock post-match.

"We've come out of this without any injuries," he siad.

"His ankle got jarred a bit but he's good."

Winger Dom Shipperley was the only other injury worry for the Rebels, but Wessels was confident a knee twinge would be just that.

The Rebels take on the Reds on Friday February 23 to open their Super Rugby season, while the Waratahs host the Stormers on Saturday February 24. 

RESULT

Waratahs 47

Tries: Hooper, Folau, Vui, Foketi, Penalty, Hegarty, Newsome

Cons: Foley 2

Rebels 5

Tries: Uelese

Yellow cards: Tuipulotu, Ruru