Waratahs vs Sunwolves: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Waratahs have sealed the Australian conference for 2018, with a win over the Sunwolves.

What are we talking about after their 77-25 victory?

1. Waratahs lock in finals

The Waratahs will not miss the Super Rugby finals and need just a win over the Brumbies to lock in hosting rights for a quarter and a semi-final this season. Few punters were predicting any great success for NSW this season, despite having a host of Wallabies among their list. They have proven themselves the best team in the conference, beating all their Aussie rivals so far, and proving 

2. Backline living up to the hype

The Waratahs haven’t been at their best in every match this year, but their attack has been their shining light all year. Yes, they spent half the match a man up on the Sunwolves, but a record score is a tick for them as well. Taqele Naiyaravoro hit a Waratahs record 14 season tries in the clash, while Israel Folau and Alex Newsome collected doubles as well. A fair reward for the 18,059 who turned up on Saturday night, their highest crowd of the season.

3. Parker is human after all

Hayden Parker missed a kick on Saturday night. Photo: Getty ImagesAt times this year, Hayden Parker has looked like a kicking robot, on his way to a Super Rugby record 38 straight kicks. That run was ended in Sydney tonight, when an attempt at goal went astray, surprising anyone watching.

4. Red card a mental blow for Sunwolves

Red cards put teams down a man but often it’s the mental hit teams take that hurts them even more. When Semisi Masirewa was sent off in the 39th minute for a lifting tackle, the energy seemed to be sucked out of the Sunwolves, even after the break. It wasn’t just overlaps that were getting on the Sunwolves’ back, with even contests going the way of the Waratahs as well. Sunwolves acting coach Tony Brown voiced his support for a report system post-match, and it seems this won’t be the end of the discussion for rugby.

5. Yamada’s star quality shines in Sydney

There were a host of tries you could pluck out from Saturday night’s game as among the best in the season, but it was Akihito Yamada’s double that stole the show. First the Japanese winger stepped around Bernard Foley just inside touch to chase down a kick and score. Then, he beat none other than Israel Folau on the left edge for a second against the run of play. We know he’s no new face around rugby, but tonight was a reminder that he is a genuine superstar.