Aussie woes continue at Brookvale Oval

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Another winless weekend is over for Australian rugby, with the Waratahs unable to break the trans-Tasman duck, losing to the Blues 24-21.

NSW never bought into the 'struggling Blues' talk that dominated the lead-up, and the Auckland visitors will go home with their tails up, after just their third win of the season.

The Waratahs had the early attacking possession but it was deja vu as their own mistakes proved their greatest obstacles to scoring. 

It was a Waratahs mistake that opened up the first opportunity for the Blues, some dangerous passes putting NSW under pressure deep in their own territory, and the Auckland side pounced through Rieko Ioane.

Ioane looked like he had another in the 14th minute, put into a gap after a Blues intercept, only to be dragged down by Cam Clark, in a desperate, and much-needed, effort from the winger.

The Blues continued to pepper the Waratahs’ defence and rookie Stephen Perofeta stretched their lead, with a penalty in the 18th minute.


Israel Folau looked like creating something for NSW, but an offload missed its target in Jake Gordon and their promising opportunity was snuffed out.

A dangerous tackle from Dalton Papalii on Clark gave the Waratahs a one-man advantage five metres out from the Blues line and they immediately took the chance, with a driving maul try to Damien Fitzpatrick.

Papalii took Clark high roughly seven metres from the line, with referee Jaco Peyper sending Papalii, but interestingly opting against a penalty try.

NSW put themselves under unnecessary pressure despite their extra man, slipping off tackles as the Blues put in another score through Tumua Manu.

Tighthead Sekope Kepu was a surprise tryscorer in open play, finishing off a chain of attack, with a pick and go at the right edge, to narrow the gap to just one point, before a Blues penalty made it three points at the break.

A desperate Waratahs side came out on the other side of half-time and still struggled to capitalise on their attacking chances, with the Blues snatching turnovers deep in Waratahs’ attacking territory.

NSW had had 75 per cent territory up until the 60-minute mark, but it was the Blues who broke the second-half duck, with another Perofeta penalty making it a seven-point gap.


From there, the Blues looked at the sticks whenever they could, with Perofeta adding another three-pointer to keep the game at arm's length.

Captain Michael Hooper put the Waratahs back in it, running onto an inside ball from Kurtley Beale and slipping through a gap to narrow the margin to three with 10 to go.

The Waratahs had the momentum and a marathon chain of attacking phases ended in an ambitious Beale cross-kick, that just went through Folau's fingers, snuffing out their chances of scoring.

NSW had one final chance to attack, but almost inevitably a loose Paddy Ryan carry was dislodged, along with the optimism of many Australian rugby fans.

The Waratahs head to New Zealand next week, taking on the Crusaders in Christchurch.

RESULT

Waratahs 21

Tries: Fitzpatrick, Kepu, Hooper

Cons: Foley 3 

Blues 24

Tries: R. Ioane, Manu

Cons: Perofeta

Pens: Perofeta 4

Yellow Cards: Papalii (24’)