The Waratahs extended their winning streak over the Reds with a tough 28-17 victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was the Waratahs’ 10th successive win over their arch-rivals and the Reds’ eighth straight loss away from home. The Tahs move into second place in the Australian conference, above the Brumbies, with a game in hand.
Despite both sides getting plenty of opportunities to run the ball, it was an error-strewn match, filled with handling errors, with some big hits being put in by both defences.
It was unfortunate that this game was played on a cricket oval, as the pitch tore up far too often, taking away what could have been an intriguing scrum contest.
The Reds wasted a good opportunity to go ahead early when they won possession straight from the kick-off and were awarded a penalty soon after, which Bryce Hegarty missed to the left. The Waratahs then won a couple of penalties of their own, which Bernard Foley kicked to give them a 6-0 lead.
There was a further blow when Reds prop JP Smith was yellow-carded for a cynical off-side infringement, and they were immediately punished when a clever move around the back of a lineout allowed Waratahs flank Ned Hanigan to bash his way over under the poles.
The home team got good field position, but were let down by some poor handling in the face of a physical Tahs defence. The visitors, on the other hand, looked dangerous whenever they released their Wallabies-filled backline.
However, the Reds did manage a response when a couple of forward drives off a short lineout took them close to the tryline before Samu Kerevi sniped round the back of a ruck to score.
Foley then slotted his third penalty to take the Waratahs into a nine-point lead, which was soon decreased to four when Kerevi released Chris Feauai-Sautia, who sprinted into the corner untouched just before half-time.
Vodacom #SuperRugby – HALFTIME:
Waratahs 16 – 12 Reds
The Waratahs held on to take a four point lead in to the break after the Reds made a late surge in Sydney.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 9, 2019
The Waratahs got off to a dream start in the second half when a poor clearance allowed Kurtley Beale to put Curtis Rona through a gap out wide, and the wing shrugged off a couple of poor tackles to extend their lead.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with the Reds seeing plenty of ball, but struggling to make anything of it. The Waratahs centre combination of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Karmichael Hunt was impressive in defence during this period.
The Reds were awarded a number of penalties during this time, and perhaps with the value of hindsight, would have been better served going for posts, as they were put under pressure at the lineouts and coughed the ball up every time they got near the tryline.
The hosts finally managed a breakthrough when Kerevi sucked in a couple of defenders with a strong carry and offloaded to Hegarty, who chipped the ball behind the defence. Sefa Naivalu gathered and went over to make it a four-point game going into the final 10 minutes.
Any hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed as the Waratahs went on to the offensive and again capitalised on some poor defending when substitute Alex Newsome ran a perfect line around the ruck to bust through and score.
Vodacom #SuperRugby – RESULT:
Waratahs 28 – 17 Reds
The Waratahs made it back to back victories after an impressive victory over a determined Reds side. pic.twitter.com/A6uwDFM4Bt
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 9, 2019
Waratahs – Tries: Ned Hanigan, Curtis Rona, Alex Newsome. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalty: Foley (3).
Reds – Tries: Samu Kerevi, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Sefa Naivalu. Conversion: Bryce Hegarty.
Waratahs – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Lachlan Swinton, 20 Will Miller, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Mack Mason, 23 Alex Newsome
Reds – 15 Isaac Lucas, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hooper, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Caleb Timu, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Jack Hardy.
Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images