Waratahs take the honours in heritage clash

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A Taqele Naiyaravoro double has propelled the Waratahs to a 37-16 bonus-point win over the Reds and the top of the Australian conference after round nine.

It was their eighth consecutive win over Queensland, dating back to 2013, but it was by no means easy, with the Waratahs giving away as many opportunities as they took in a heritage clash at the SCG.

Early on, it looked like being a true hark back to the older eras of rugby, a slow-scoring grind with smatterings of spark.

NSW  had the first score of the night, with a Bernard Foley penalty just three minutes in, with Queensland’s reputation for ill-discipline being fulfilled early.

Naiyaravoro had his first chance early in the piece, but that was disallowed, snuffing out the Waratahs’ first real hope at a try.

He had no such trouble with his next two chances, scoring a spectacular intercept try and collecting a Nick Phipps pass in the 72nd minute to seal the game.

It was back to the future for the Waratahs and Reds. Photo: Getty ImagesBoth sides found a way to make things scrappy as the first half unfolded, but it was the Waratahs again who came out with a penalty before Queensland’s James Tuttle returned the favour in the 24th minute.

Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale found himself in a world of space in the 33rd minute, a rare moment in this tight match, passing off to Bryce Hegarty, with the fullback misjudging a pass to Bernard Foley, ending their chance at a running try.

It took until the 36th minute for NSW halfback Jake Gordon to finally break through for a try, finishing off a slick counter-attack for the Waratahs after Reds’ nine Tuttle kicked the ball down Kurtley Beale’s throat.

When the Waratahs finally had a real chance to show off their speed, it was Naiyaravoro who made the most of it, grasping an intercept off Reds flyhalf Jono Lance and speeding away from Queensland’s defenders to score.

Though the Waratahs forwards were outsized by their Queensland counterparts, the bulk of the hosts' pack took plenty of pride from the clash, with lock Rob Simmons impressive in his first match against Queensland, and Michael Hooper and Michael Wells ploughing through an immense amount of work.

A Waratahs error was what it ultimately took for the Reds to pick up their first try of the night, with Filipo Daugunu snapping up an intercept to narrow the margin to one score, showing his value.

It was tough going at times for the Reds against the Waratahs. Photo: Getty ImagesThough the Reds had threatened to turn the momentum on its head, the Waratahs managed to wrestle it back with a host of fresh faces in the back end of the game, before Naiyaravoro’s close-range try.

Both sides had a bonus point to play for in the final 10 minutes, but it was the Waratahs who snatched it, with replacement prop Harry Johnson-Holmes crashing over in the 81st minute.

Foley’s perfect seven-from-seven off the boot added 17 points for the Waratahs, sealing the margin and putting them on top of the Australian conference, after the Rebels lost to the Jaguares earlier on Saturday afternoon.

The Waratahs take on South African powerhouses the Lions next Friday night in Sydney, while the Reds host the Chiefs on Saturday night.

RESULT

Waratahs 37

Tries: Naiyaravoro 2, Gordon, Johnson-Holmes

Cons: Foley 4

Pens: Foley 3

Reds 16

Tries: Daugunu

Cons: Lance

Pens: Tuttle 3