Mariette Adams

Waratahs give Rebels reality check

Lalakai Foketi breaks the line Lalakai Foketi breaks the line

The Waratahs overturned a 17-point deficit to thump the Rebels 51-27 in Sydney on Sunday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.

The result ended the Rebels’ three-match winning streak, which was their best-ever start to a season.

Historically, the Waratahs have dominated this fixture, previously beating the Rebels 11 times and losing just twice.

On Sunday, they had most of the ball possession and dictated the territorial battle.

The Tahs' attack in the first half was static as they continued to throw the ball around but kept running into a dark blue wall of Rebels defenders. But in a complete turnaround after the break, the hosts chalked up 31 unanswered points in the third quarter to end the Rebels’ resistance.

The visitors came into this contest full of confidence and it showed in their approach and execution. They absorbed a lot of pressure early on and hit the Waratahs from turnover possession and on the counter to open a 20-3 lead.

Centre Tom English went over for the first try when he scooped the ball up from a knock on by Kurtley Beale inside the 22. No 8 Amanaki Mafi and wing Jack Maddocks were next to score. And while Reece Hodge only managed to kick one of the three conversion attempts and a penalty, the Rebels looked on course for just their second-ever victory in Sydney.

But a try on the stroke of half-time by Lalakai Foketi allowed Waratahs to cut the Rebels' advantage to 10 at the midway mark. The hosts then came out after the interval and produced their best half of the season. 

In a 20-minute burst, they ran the Rebels ragged as Rob Simmons, Mitch Short, Bryce Hegarty and Taqele Naiyaravoro crossed the line. Bernard Foley converted all four of those tries and added a penalty as they went 41-20 up, leaving the Rebels stunned. 

There wasn't much structure to the game after that. The Rebels pulled a try back, but the Waratahs added 10 more points, including a second try from Naiyaravoro, to complete the demolition.

Waratahs – Tries: Lalakai Foketi, Rob Simmons, Mitch Short, Bryce Hegarty, Taqele Naiyaravoro (2). Conversions: Bernard Foley (5). Penalties: Foley (3).
Rebels – Tries: Tom English, Amanaki Mafi, Jack Maddocks, Matt Philip. Conversions: Reece Hodge (2). Penalty: Hodge.

Waratahs – 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Mitchell Short, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Michael Wells, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Will Miller, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Alex Newsome, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Ross Haylett-Petty, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Subs: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Colby Fainga’a, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Sefa Naivalu.

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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