The Waratahs scored 25 second-half points to come from behind and down the Rebels 31-26 in their derby in Sydney on Friday.
The Rebels led 16-6 at the break, but the home side lifted the tempo and finally gained some ball in the second half, after defending most of the first, to lift themselves and power their way into the lead and snatch the game.
It was a stark contrast from the first half, where it was all the Rebels.
The Tahs looked lacklustre and struggled with the pace of the game as the Rebels took it to them from all angles, building a scoreline for the early lead.
James O’Connor may have missed a sitter early on, but his two penalties were enough to put the Rebels up early, before a yellow card for hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau swung the game more in the favour of the visitors as referee Rohan Hoffmann had enough of the constant infringements.
It was shortly after this that the Rebels took a lineout, and threw to the front, and hooker Ged Robinson caught the Tahs defence napping for the opening try.
Despite Brendan McKibbon’s boot, the Rebels went into the break 16-6 before the Tahs emerged looking like a new team, refreshed and ready for action.
Almost immediately they looked dangerous, finding gaps in the Rebels defence and it wasn’t long before Hoffmann was irritated with the professional fouls on the Rebel side, and dispatched Laurie Weeks to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.
McKibbon reduced the deficit almost immediately and a man to the good, the Tahs found the gap with the scrumhalf darted through a gap, allowing the backline to take the ball forward, and flyhalf Bernard Foley to cross for the try.
With the scores level, the momentum certainly had shifted, with Israel Folau having a big hand as Michael Hooper crossed for the second try after a good build-up.
It was only in the 69th minute when O’Connor stopped the 17-point run from the home side to bring his team back in with a chance.
But another long-range shot from McKibbin and Paddy Ryan bursting over after some poor defence put the game beyond the Rebels.
Kurtley Beale gave his side a late bonus-point by crossing on the hooter, giving some respectability to a scoreline that flattered the visitors after the second half demolition.
Waratahs – Tries: Bernard Foley, Michael Hooper, Paddy Ryan. Conversions: Brendan McKibbin (2). Penalties: McKibbin (3).
Rebels – Tries: Ged Robinson, Kurtley Beale. Conversions: James O'Connor (2). Penalties: O'Connor (4).