Waratahs vs Rebels: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Waratahs put some pristine second half football together to belt the Rebels on Sunday.

Here's what we learned from the 51-27 result.

1. Izzy best suited on the wing?

Israel Folau filled the unfamiliar role of a right winger on Sunday and it allowed both Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale to repeatedly kick to his wing, Folau duly claiming each kick that came his way.

That added another layer to a Waratahs attack which has struggled to find its groove and in the second half, NSW ran in five exhilarating tries.Folau soared over Jack Maddocks on two occasions. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyFolau admitted post match that he finds life easier on the right hand side of the field and it showed, as he racked up 42 metres, four tackle busts, two line breaks and three offloads from his eight runs.

Bryce Hegarty also played well from fullback, which was a large factor in the decision to shift Folau from fullback.

Whether Folau stays on the wing will be a welcome selection headache for Daryl Gibson and if he does, it will be an interesting proposition for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to consider come June.

2. Rebels fail first test

As impressive as Melbourne have been in starting the season 3-0, they had each of those three wins all their own way.Marika Koroibete and the Rebels were no match for the Waratahs. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThey had not been challenged by a team playing the quality of rugby the Waratahs produced in the second half and when pushed, they floundered.

Melbourne struggled without consistent gain line ball and while the Waratahs were devastating with each attacking raid, the Rebels found little in defence.

A five day turnaround before hosting the Sharks represents their next challenge.

3. Haylett-Petty hit hurts

The loss of Dane Haylett-Petty to a sickening head knock on Folau's hip signalled an early end to his afternoon and the Rebels struggled for clarity in the 67 minutes that followed.

They led 20-10 at half time - and were unlucky to not be leading by more - but coach Dave Wessels spoke this week about the role Haylett-Petty plays in steering the side from behind the line and Melbourne looked lost without him.

Rebels fans will be hoping their star fullback can bounce back but he could be touch and go to face the Sharks, considering the five day turnaround.

4. Foley, Beale click

One of the Wallabies 10-12 pairing had a key hand in each of the Waratahs tries, such was their influence on this match.

It helps when the forward pack wins the battle up front but this pair were borderline unstoppable with front foot ball in the second half.

5. Buckle up, Australia

The Tahs displaced the Brumbies in third with their second win of the season and that leaves all four Australian clubs with at least two wins through their first four matches.

The Rebels are still clear on top of the conference with 15 points but the Reds, Brumbies and Tahs are all nipping at their heels.

Each conference win is worth its weight in gold.