GARETH DUNCAN reports on the Waratahs’ 30-21 victory over the Rebels in Sydney.
The result was expected. The Rebels are known for their poor record on the road, and they expectedly folded against the Waratahs’ charge. The latter dominated with a strong superior forwards display, moments of impressive backline interplay and clever decision-making to cruise to victory. Despite two tries in a late fightback from the visitors, the hosts still held on for a comfortable win.
The Waratahs will, however, lament their inability to score a fourth try for the bonus point. In the dying moments, they camped in the Rebels’ red zone, but they couldn’t reach the whitewash after several attempts. This could prove costly in their pursuit for a play-off place, considering their poor start to the season.
The Sydney team started the match strongly, grabbing the opening try after just 26 seconds. After winning possession from the kick-off, they built moment through strong ball carries before a smart backline move, mixed with inside and outside offloads, was finished off by fullback Bernard Foley. Scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin added the extras, and kicked two penalties for an early 13-0 lead.
The Rebels managed to hit back through a try scored by hooker Ged Robinson, but McKibbin slotted another three-pointer to make the half-time tally 16-7 in the Waratahs’ favour.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau powered through after a clever lineout move to give the hosts a perfect start to the second half, and outside centre Rob Horne created a big opportunity for a bonus-point win when he scored the third try moments later. But their ill-discipline cost them momentum, and saw them reduced to 14 men when Horne was yellow carded.
The Rebels made full use of their one-man advantage and capitalised on that ascendancy to cross the chalk via flanker Tom Davidson and wing Lachlan Mitchell.
Once they returned to 15 men, the Waratahs regained their control of the match, but failed to find that valuable fourth try.