Israel Folau scored a brace as the Waratahs claimed a hard-fought 15-13 win over the Reds in Brisbane on Sunday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
The Reds started superbly in a pulsating first half, their early dominance facilitated by the Waratahs’ high error rate and ill-discipline. But the visitors slowly made it a more even contest and in the end held on to win their sixth successive match against the Reds.
The Reds used their scrum as a strike weapon from the get-go, forcing the Waratahs to concede a string of penalties. However, the Reds’ general play paled in comparison to the Waratahs' as they failed to get over the gainline despite managing to keep the ball alive for long sequences.
Lock Cadeyrn Neville made a lightning midfield break and from there the Waratahs defence was unable to recover and the Reds won a penalty. Rob Simmons surprisingly opted to take a scrum. After four penalties at the set piece against the Waratahs, his decision was vindicated as the referee lost his patience and awarded a penalty try.
Five minutes later, the Waratahs responded through Folau. After Jed Holloway scuttled through a gap, they recycled quickly to create an easy run-in for the fullback.
Foley’s conversion went astray, but they would take a lead into the break after a mistake by the Reds led to a second for Folau. Despite going backwards in the tackle, the Reds opted to keep the ball alive after the half-time hooter had sounded instead of kicking it into touch. Michael Hooper made a turnover and the visitors launched a counter-attack which ended with Folau completing his brace as the Waratahs led 12-7.
Soon after the restart, the contest turned ugly when Reds front rowers Andrew Ready and Sef Fa’agase both dropped a knee onto the head of Waratahs replacement hooker Hugh Roach. Fa’agase escaped punishment, but Ready was yellow-carded.
However, the visitors didn’t use their man-over to great advantage, as it was the Reds who took the lead in that 10-minute timeframe via two Jake McIntyre penalties.
Foley, however, had the final say with a 68th-minute penalty to decide the outcome.
The match fizzled out into a kicking contest towards the end with both sides eager to play inside the opposition's half, but with Foley and Kurtley Beale kicking in tandem, the Waratahs won that mini-contest too.
Reds – Try: Penalty try. Conversion: Jake McIntyre. Penalties: McIntyre (2).
Waratahs – Tries: Israel Folau (2). Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalty: Foley.
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (c), 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Sef Fa’agase.
Subs: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 David Dennis, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Taavao, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Matt Carraro.
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images