Waratahs ease past rabble Rebels
The Waratahs moved back to the top of the Australia conference, at least for 24 hours, as they eased past the Rebels in Sydney on Friday.
The Waratahs moved back to the top of the Australia conference, at least for 24 hours, as they eased past the Rebels - wining 32-8 in Sydney on Friday.
Outscoring the indisciplined and error-prone Rebels by four tries to one, the Waratahs overtook the Brumbies in the Aussie race - with the latter playing the Stormers in Canberra on Saturday.
It was a ragged game on a ragged field, the second half moderately better than the first half because of the brilliance of Kurtley Beale.
His performance was to sing songs about.
But the handling, the play breakdowns and the dismal scrummaging made it an unpleasant match to watch.
The scrummaging was probably directly affected by the field. It had been raining in Sydney though the day was fine. The playing surface was reminiscent of some substandard stadiums during the Six Nations - Murrayfield, Millennium Stadium and Stade de France.
There were 20 scrums, of which nine collapsed, seven were reset, four were penalised.
Those are just stats, but they do not tell the mess of those that did not fall down or the way the referee found it necessary to move a scrum from ploughed land to an isle of normalcy. There are ways that stadiums can improve the quality of surface even if it rains.
The match promised so much with a hectic start and an attack by the Waratahss down the right. Big Jacques Potgieter, playing flank, was involved twice. From a tackle/ruck Luke Burgess gave to Israel Folau who cut back in and gave to Foley on his inside. Foley went around to the right and threw a perfect pass to Alofa Alofa who raced down the right wing. He went over fullback Angus Roberts, staggered and was over in the right corner - 5-0 after three minutes.
Unfortunately the match did not live up to this early standard.
There were also early casualties. Toby Smith failed a pitchside concussion assessment and was replaced. Lachie Mitchell damaged a knee at a breakdown and was taken off on a mobile stretcher.
A long way out Foley chipped, got and gave to Folau who had an clear, long run for the line but Bryce Hegarty caught the great player from behind. The Wallabies were hot on the attack but resolute defence repulsed them.
The Rebels used a kickable penalty to produce a line-out eight metres from the Waratahs line. They bashed at the line. Paul Alo-Emile was close. They went left where they seemed to have an overlap but Roberts held on and was tackled. From that breakdown they went right and Scott Higginbotham got past a feeble attempt at a tackle and powered over to score - 5-5 after 27 minutes.
From the kick-off Mitch Inman obstructed Michael Hooper and Foley goaled. Four minutes later Foley held on in a tackle and Hegarty goaled. Then Higginbotham was penalised at a ruck and Foley made it 11-8 after 35 minutes, the half-time score after the Rebels had gone through phases but lost the ball in a knock-on.
The Beale miracle started early. From the first line-out on the Waratahs went left, Burgess passed to Beale who immediately gave inside to his school chum Peter Betham and Betham cut straight through and over 50 metres later scored in the left corner. Foley converted from touch - 18-8 after 43 minutes and the winner was obvious.
Foley nearly set up another try. He broke from deep inside his own 22, straight down the field. About 35 metres out from the Rebels line, lacking support, he kicked ahead. Hegarty got the ball under pressure from Michael Hooper and kicked out for a line-out five metres from his line. The Waratahs mauled and went left where Alofa was close and Robinson over but the TMO agreed with the referee that Potgieter had knocked on in this period of play.
The Waratahs won a turnover when Tom Kingston was tackled and from about 50 metres out Beale broke on an angle to the right before playing inside to Folau who scored at the posts - 25-8 after 48 minutes.
At this stage Roberts was forced into touch and then threw the ball away. The referee penalised him and sent him to the sin bin. It was not a great match for Roberts.
Foley broke from a line-out but the Rebels won a turnover and Kingston footed downfield. Somehow burly Potgieter got back to the ball and in a soccer-style slide footed the ball out to save the situation.
The Rebels did not look like scoring after this. The Waratahs might have when Beale chipped and Foley collected but the flyhalf lost the ball forward
The Rebels sent on two Japanese players as substitutes in the second half - hooker Shota Horie and centre Male Sau.
With six minutes to play, Beale broke clean through from a breakdown inside the Rebels' half. He raced straight ahead, slowed to allow support to catch up and gave to Folau who ran some 30 metres to score under the posts - a bonus-point try.
Man of the Match: There were Waratah candidates -Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Dave Dennis, Jacques Potgieter and Tatafu Polota-Nau and then there was our choice, Kurtley Beale who lifted a match out of the mire, sparking three delightful tries.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Alofa, Betham, Folau 2
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley 2
For the Rebels:
Yellow card: Angus Roberts (Rebels, 54 - professional foul, throwing the ball away)
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Sekope Kepu.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Benn Robinson, 19 Wycliff Palu, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Rob Horne, 23 Matt Carraro.
Rebels: 15 Angus Roberts, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Cruze Ah-Nau, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Male Sa'u, 23 Tom Kingston.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)