The Waratahs fell three points short of breaking Australia's trans-Tasman Super Rugby drought on Saturday night.
What are we talking about after that Brookvale Oval encounter?
1. Streak remains intact
Thirty-eight matches, and nearly two years, without an Australian Super Rugby victory over a New Zealand team. If you believe our friends across the ditch, this is rock bottom for Australia, and puts into question the Aussies’ Super Rugby future. Though that is certainly an overreaction from some of the voices in New Zealand, yet another loss made it yet another grim weekend for Australian rugby. The Waratahs now face three more Kiwi teams in as many weeks, all ostensibly better than the Blues. They’ve got some work to do.
2. Waratahs their own worst enemy
The Blues’ defence was more accurate than the Waratahs’, but NSW really only had themselves to blame, yet again. They had 72 per cent territory through the match and 52 per cent possession, but couldn’t break the Blues’ wall as they tried to snatch the lead. Nick Phipps brought spark when he came on, something that would have pleased Wallabies coach Michael Cheika as well after an injury to Will Genia earlier in the weekend, and they looked dangerous. Ultimately, though, handling errors, defensive lapses and an inability to convert overrode them again.
3. Folau can play footy
Israel Folau has been a divisive character of rugby, especially in the past month, but there’s consensus about his quality as a rugby player. Made his return to Super Rugby on Saturday night after a month out and made something happen with nearly every touch he had. Made 62 metres by half-time and helped create the Waratahs’ scoring opportunities.
4. Clark shows heart
Cam Clark won his first Waratahs start of 2018 at Brookvale Oval and the winger really showed some spark. But it was his try-saving tackle on Rieko Ioane that showed the strides he is making in XVs rugby. It was something we see all too rarely and an effort that deserved to be singled out.
5. Suburban footy a great success
Waratahs fans should be excited about the looming Allianz Stadium rebuild, if Saturday night was anything to go by. Brookvale Oval was packed out and the place was buzzing. Both teams stuck around post-match to mingle with fanes out on the ground as well, a nice touch after a tight game.Though it’s not always possible to take rugby to suburban grounds, 2019 will be the year and it might be a vital move for the Waratahs, looking to re-connect with their community.