The Waratahs recorded a 30-10 bonus-point win against the Reds in Sydney. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
The Tahs scored three tries to lead 20-0 after 27 minutes of Saturday's match, and while the Reds did well to reduce the deficit to 10, a fourth try on the hour mark put the hosts back in charge.
They then defended well late in the game to secure the bonus point, which is now awarded for scoring three more tries than the opposition.
The first half provided more entertainment than the second.
Kurtley Beale opened the scoring with a penalty, but when the Waratahs were awarded another kickable penalty they opted to put it into touch. That bold approach paid off when Michael Hooper scored from the lineout driving maul to give his side an 8-0 lead.
The Reds conceded a string of early penalties, which resulted in a team warning, and when Rob Simmons went offside at a ruck he was yellow-carded.
The visitors, though, came close to scoring a try with 14 men with a brilliant tackle from Beale preventing Chris Feauai-Sautia from going over in the right corner.
Just when it looked like the Reds wouldn't concede any points while Simmons was off, the Tahs struck. The ball went wide to Zac Guildford, whose grubber went forward off Feauai-Sautia's hand into the in-goal area, with Matt Carraro diving on the ball. Beale again missed the conversion.
No sooner had the Reds been restored to 15 men than the Tahs scored their third try. Nick Phipps's inside pass found Hooper whose pass was kicked ahead by David Horwitz, and the inside centre easily won the race to the ball to make it 20-0.
It took the Reds until the 44th minute of the match to open their account, when replacement fullback Ayumu Goromaru slotted a long-range penalty.
While his next attempt went wide, the visitors continued to dominate and were rewarded when Jake McIntyre dotted down for a try that reduced the deficit to 10.
But the Tahs hit back immediately when Nick Phipps chased down Beale's kick ahead to make it 27-10.
Reds replacement prop Sam Talakai was then sin-binned for a professional foul at a ruck and Bryce Hegarty slotted the penalty.
It became 14 vs 14 when Waratahs replacement prop Jeremy Tilse was sin-binned after another collapsed scrum with three minutes to go.
But the Reds were unable to convert all that late pressure into a second try that would have denied the Tahs the bonus point.
Waratahs – Tries: Michael Hooper, Matt Carraro, David Horwitz, Nick Phipps. Conversions: Kurtley Beale (2). Penalties: Beale, Bryce Hegarty.
Reds – Try: Jake McIntyre. Conversion: Ayumu Goromaru. Penalty: Goromaru.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 David Dennis, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Taavao, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Subs: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Reece Robinson.
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Curtis Browning, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (c), 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Ben Daley.
Subs: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.
Photo: Matt King/Getty Images