Waratahs outgun Reds in Suncorp derby shootout

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Waratahs have run rings around the Reds to go into the June break atop the Australian conference, claiming a 52-41 win.

This was a shootout from start to finish and that was always going to suit the high-powered, high-scoring Waratahs, who barely broke into a sweat en route to a large majority of their tries.

Bernard Foley was masterful running off the back of a dominant pack, creating space for outside backs who had their opposite numbers figured out.

Israel Folau's aerial assault proved unstoppable, Taqele Naiyaravoro had too much size for the small Queensland backs and Kurtley Beale straightened the attack when it strayed from the shape that had the Reds befuddled.

The Reds, to be fair, made inroads when they had their hands on the ball and scored some sublime tries of their own but their defence didn't stand up when required and the deficit in goal-kicking ability hurt, too.

Foley slotted six tough conversions from seven attempts in his 60 minutes but Hamish Stewart could only manage two from seven - the pair he nailed from directly in the front.

The try-fest started just two minutes in when a near certain Waratahs try turned into seven points at the other end, a Foley pass picked off by Scott Higginbotham, who made a smart decision to dishthe ball to the quickest man on the field - Izaia Perese - who ran 65 metres to score under the sticks.

The Waratahs barely went into second gear in issuing their response three minutes later, some nice Beale touches and a smart offload from Naiyaravoro putting Curtis Rona over in the corner.

That was all inside five minutes and once the two teams caught their breath, Queensland marched upfield with some strong carries - Higginbotham responsible for several of those - and the skipper was duly rewarded with a 15th-minute try having spun his way out of three NSW tackles.

The Waratahs, once again, eased to their second just four minutes after Higginbotham crossed - a superb Samu Kerevi try saver nullified by a try to Michael Wells from the following phase.

NSW were then denied a sensational set piece try when the final inside pass from Damien Fitzpatrick to Cam Clark was adjudged to be forward but they didn't have to wait much longer to extend their lead to nine, Naiyaravoro crashing through three feeble Reds tackles - from Moses Sorovi, Stewart and Jayden Ngamanu - to score.

The Reds then crossed against the run of play through Taniela Tupou but with one minute remaining in the first term, Izack Rodda gave away a cynical penalty and an incredible cross-field kick take from Folau on the head of Ngamanu sent the visitors into the sheds up 28-19.

NSW picked up where they left off in the second term, a pinpoint Foley penalty kick setting up a lineout five from the Queensland line, with Nick Phipps scoring moments later.

Kane Douglas was then sin-binned in the 48th minute for playing the ball on the ground two minutes after referee Angus Gardner warned QLD for their ill-discipline and after a Duncan Paia'aua chip kick bounced into the hands of Folau rather than Kerevi, the lead was 40-19 and the game was all but over.

Alex Mafi kept Queensland's slim hopes alive by responding to Folau's second with one of his own and after Paia'aua slipped three Tahs tackles to give Queensland prime field position, a sublime Kerevi offload put Caleb Timu through a hole and he crashed over the top of Nick Phipps to give the Reds a genuine sniff at 40-29 with 20 to play.

But an incredibly soft try for Jake Gordon, in which the Reds defence jogged in cover defence while the Tahs sprinted, signalled the final nail in the Queensland coffin.

Clark, Petaia and Sef Faagase all added their names to the scoresheet with the game already decided but it was a case of too little, too late for the Reds.

NSW have now won nine straight matches between the two sides.

RESULT

Reds 41

Tries: Perese, Higginbotham, Tupou, Mafi, Timu, Petaia, Faagase

Cons: Stewart 2, Lucas

Waratahs 52

Tries: Folau 2, Rona, Wells, Naiyaravoro, Phipps, Gordon, Clark

Cons: Foley 6