Bernard Foley kicked a 77th-minute penalty as the Waratahs beat the Reds 29-26 in Brisbane on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
With the scores locked at 26-26, Reds replacement prop Alex Mafi was penalised for a high tackle. Foley then lived up to his nickname ‘The Ice Man’ by stepping up and calmly converting the opportunity into three match-winning points.
It’s been a rarity in Australian rugby of late, but this derby between Queensland and New South Wales provided endless entertainment. The Reds’ expansive brand of play meant they were more aggressive on attack, while the Waratahs employed a more structured and set-piece orientated approach.
In the end, the Waratahs, who had been on the back foot for so long, found a way to extend their winning streak in this fixture to seven, dating back to 2014. The win also moves the Tahs to within four log points of the Brumbies in the Australian conference.
The Waratahs controlled the opening stages, but the sides were locked at 7-7 after the first quarter, before the Reds pulled away. A missed tackle by Michael Hooper allowed lock Lukhan Tui to go on a striding run for a try, before a brilliant piece of vision and skill by Quade Cooper edged them further ahead.
With the Reds defending on their own 5m line, Cooper intercepted a wild pass and broke through the Waratahs’ line. But realising he wouldn't have the pace to go all the way, the mercurial flyhalf neatly placed the ball into the open space out wide with a pin-point kick, which speedster Izaia Perese latched on to to score.
The Waratahs continued to probe through their forwards, and apart from conceding a couple of breakdown penalties to the legendary George Smith, the Tahs dominated the lineouts and scrums. Ill-discipline in the last five minutes before the break cost the Reds, as they conceded 10 points and a yellow card during that time to go into the sheds with a slender two-point advantage.
The Reds scored the only try of the second half through Stephen Moore, who crashed over from the back of a lineout maul. But Foley, frustratingly for the Reds, kept the scoreboard ticking over, and the visitors within striking distance.
Three second-half penalties saw the flyhalf level the scores, before Mafi's indiscretion allowed Foley to complete the comeback with that late penalty.
Reds – Tries: Karmichael Hunt, Lukhan Tui, Izaia Perese, Stephen Moore. Conversions: Quade Cooper (3).
Waratahs – Tries: Nick Phipps, Michael Hooper. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Foley (5).
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sef Fa’agase.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 David McDuling, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Angus Taavao, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images