Sunwolves vs Waratahs: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs can breathe a sigh of relief after a narrow 31-30 win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

What are we talking about after that nail biter?

1. Sigh of relief as Tahs get sucked in

Playing into the Sunwolves’ hands was a danger of which the Waratahs were warned pre-game but they were pulled into the Tokyo triangle on Saturday afternoon.

Loose passes landed in Sunwolves hands and the Waratahs were caught on the back foot with the hosts on the way to a half-time lead.

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper described the issue post-match as looking for “Harlem globetrotter’ options too much and that was a fairly apt description.

A 43rd minute Hayden Parker penalty made the margin six and the Waratahs were seriously under the pump and it wasn't until the final whistle that the Waratahs could finally breathe out.

2. Folau officially the best Aussie Super Rugby finisher


Israel Folau notched another Super Rugby double on Saturday afternoon and it was with those two tries that he added another record to his already long list.

That second try was Folau’s 58th in Super Rugby, putting him ahead of Joe Roff as Australia’s most prolific Super Rugby try scorer.

To put that in perspective, Roff’s mark has stood since the 2004 Super Rugby final.

Izzy. can score tries.

3. Scrum's fragility brutally exposed

The Waratahs’ pack from 1-8 is on the smaller side and their vulnerabilities showed blatantly as the Sunwolves won two first-half tightheads.

Hooper’s reluctance to go to the scrum at penalty chances late in the piece, instead looking to the corner, was as telling as any set piece statistic.

All they can do is keep trucking on but teams will continue to target the scrum and many will hurt them harder than the Sunwolves did.

4. Hunt pick-up paying dividends, next step is settling on the edges

There is no doubt that Karmichael Hunt’s acquisition is already paying off for the Waratahs.

His utility value has shown up with starts in 12 and 13 in the opening two matches but it’s what he does no matter the number that makes him useful.

He had a say in two early Waratahs tries and his last-gasp attempt to disrupt Hayden Parker’s drop goal shot was arguably the act that saved NSW from a shock 0-2 start to the year.

Hunt and Kurtley Beale seem likely to be the starting centre combination after that performance but don't count out Adam Ashley-Cooper coming into the starters on the wing.

Neither Curtis Rona and Alex Newsome made a huge impact on a game that offered up plenty of opportunities and coach Daryl Gibson will have some food for thought as NSW go into their bye.

5. Dempsey going up a notch

For all the Waratahs’ pack problems, one player they don’t need to worry about is Jack Dempsey.

The flanker-come-no. 8 has started his Super Rugby return on a mission and he was among the best in his 62 minutes on the park.

Dempsey finished with a try, 65 run metres, six tackles and two turnovers for the afternoon.

Welcome back, Jack.