The Waratahs showed why they are considered by many to be one of the favoured team’s in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby by comprehensively outplaying the Reds 32-5 in Sydney on Saturday.
For the second successive week the Waratahs beat a fellow Australian team by more than 20 points, and banked their four try bonus point by the 47th minute. Fullback Israel Folau turned in an outstanding performance at fullback and led the way for his team with two tries of his own as well as playing a hand in some of the other impressive counter-attacks produced by the winners.
But the Waratahs paved the way for the win with their big hitting defence, something that forced Reds errors that the Waratahs fed off, and which counter-balanced a strong performance from the Reds’ lineout.
There was a lot of talk about the Waratahs’ capabilities at the start of last season, but aside from a couple of games, they never really delivered in 2013. They look well on their way though to vindicating their status as the Australian team to beat this year and a likely challenger for the trophy, with the Reds being thoroughly outplayed even though they beat last year’s Australian conference winners, the Brumbies, in Canberra last week.
The Waratahs made their intentions known from the fourth minute, which was when Kurtley Beale made a half break off an impressive flat pass from Bernard Foley and Folau was up to take the offload and score. Foley missed the easy conversion but it didn’t count for much as the Waratahs had only just started their surge.
They did have to wait 21 minutes before rolling the scoreboard on again, but when they did it was again none other than Folau who crossed, with the try being his fifth of the season, and that after only two matches. It was Foley who made the half-break to give the Waratahs momentum and after that it was the impressive hand speed and decision making that carried the ball to the line.
Foley did convert this one to make it 12-0, and it became 17-0 eight minutes later when wing Peter Betham scored to make it 19-0. Although Reds wing Lachlan Turner profited from some good work from Quade Cooper, who otherwise had an average game by his standards, to cut the halftime deficit to 14 points (19-5), the Waratahs were well in control at the halfway point.
And if there was any doubt about that it was dispelled when Beale took a quick tap from a scrum penalty and barged over to stretch the lead to 21 points with 33 minutes to play. Once the bonus point was secured it appeared to switch the Waratahs to cruise control and there were no further tries. Foley did rub it into the Waratahs’ fiercest and longest standing rivals though by kicking two penalties to make the final score reflect the dominance the Waratahs enjoyed on the field.
Waratahs – Tries: Israel Folau (2), Peter Betham, Kurtley Beale. Conversions: Bernard Foley (3).
Reds – Try: Lachlan Turner.