Bernard Foley kicked a penalty goal after the siren to deliver the Waratahs a much-needed home victory over the Blues, 30-27.
Allianz Stadium was bathed in beautiful Sydney Sunday afternoon sunshine, and Tahs fans young and old emerged from a hard morning of prayer (no turnovers, no turnovers, no turnovers) to cheer on their side. And it looked like their prayers would be answered as the Tahs started promisingly, shifting the ball left and right showing good basic skills. It paid off with an early try to Drew Mitchell after a beautiful wrap-around move involving Foley, McKibbin, Ashley-Cooper and Folau. Their joy was short-lived, however, with the Blues hitting back with a try to Tom Parsons after some scrappy work at the back of the lineout. It would only get worse for the Tahs, with the Blues striking twice in the space of a few minutes thanks to tries to Noakes and Piutau. After that promising start the Tahs went to the sheds behind 24-10.
The second half started well for the home side, chalking up first points thanks to a great try to Israel Folau after a break by Bernard Foley and a good last pass by reserve scrummie Matt Lucas. The Tahs had the weight of possession in the early periods once again, and levelled the score in the 60th minute thanks to a try from Bernard Foley. The ball control was much improved, and it looked like the Tahs had all the momentum. The Blues had their chances but caught a case of dropitis (not uncommon to pick that up on a visit to Sydney) and good attacking chances were repeatedly spurned through poor ball security. The sides traded penalty goals, and with five minutes left the score was locked at 27-27.
It looked like it would stay that way when Israel Folau couldn’t finish off after a break from Drew Mitchell, cut down late in a great tackle by Frank Halai. But the Tahs held the ball well, and Bernard Foley had the chance to finish it off with a drop-goal from 35 out, but he pushed it right. It looked like the draw, but the Tahs wanted more.
Dave Dennis stood up with a few bustling runs in centre-field, and slowly but surely the Tahs got into position. And then the penalty came, thanks to an errant Blues forward coming in from the side. Foley had the chance again – 35 out, right in front. This time he made it count: 30-27 final score, with the Tahs winning the second half 20-3.
After the game Blues coach Sir John Kirwan was effusive in his praise for the Waratahs, saying
They came out and showed courage and character. They scored the tries when they needed to and put us under enough pressure that we made those errors; so they’ve got to be happy. They did some really good things with the ball and their tournament is back on track, at least.
The Game Changer
The Waratahs’ third try came after a prolonged period of possession (14 phases), and levelled the scoreline after all looked lost at half time. It was set up by a great break from Rob Horne and finished off by Bernard Foley. It gave the Tahs a real kick, and a bucketload of confidence coming into the last 20 minutes.
The G&GR MOTM
Plenty stood up, but in the end I’d give it to Bernard Foley. Scored one, set up another and made the big play at the end to give the Tahs the chocolates. Honorable mentions to F. Saili, Ashley-Cooper and Ryan.
AAC responded to the doubters and turned in a very impressive display (including a number of nice passes). Sitaleki Timani had his hands on the ball and put in his best effort of the year, bar one lazy missed tackle. The scrum was dominant, which is a good sign for Paddy Ryan and Benn Robinson.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Mitchell, Folau, Foley
Conversions: Foley 2, McKibbin
Penalties: Foley 2, McKibbin
Tries: Parsons, Noakes, Piutau
Conversions: Noakes 3
Penalties: Noakes 2
Cards & citings