The Waratahs have guaranteed themselves top position on the Super Rugby Australian conference with a record breaking 77-25 win over the Sunwolves in Sydney in front of a season best crowd of 18,059. The 77 points scored by the home team surpassed their previous record of 73 points, set against the Lions in 2010. Regardless of what happens in next week’s final round match against the Brumbies, the Waratahs will finish top of the Australian conference, however a win in that match will assure them second spot on the overall ladder.
The Sunwolves opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a Hayden Parker penalty goal; however the Waratahs responded immediately with a Sekope Kepu try, the conversion by Foley giving home side a 7-3 lead. The Sunwolves responded soon after with another Parker penalty goal and then took the lead two minutes later when Bernard Foley embarrassingly failed to deal with a midfield kick for touch from Parker, which was scooped up from under Foley’s nose by Yamada. He raced away to score the visitors’ second try, the Parker conversion giving them a 13-7 lead.
A few minutes later the Waratahs struck back when Israel Folau busted the Sunwolves defence to score. The response from the visitors was again immediate, with Michael Leitch easily pushing Ned Hanigan away to scoot down the sideline. This conversion attempt from Parker was unsuccessful, bringing to an end his amazing record breaking sequence for the Sunwolves of 38 successful kicks. The Sunwolves held an 18-12 lead, however another immediate response came from a Kurtley Beale try with Kepu doing great work in the lead up, the conversion giving the hosts a one point lead.
Shortly before half time, Folau took a great pass pass from Foley to score his second try of the match and to this point the game had been thoroughly entertaining and absorbing. After the try was awarded, referee Federico Anselmi asked to review the tackle on Foley, and deemed it worthy of a red card to winger Semisi Masirewa. 24-18 in favour of the Waratahs at oranges.
With the Sunwolves down to 14 men, it was up to the Waratahs to capitalise on the one man advantage. They weren’t complacent and opened the scoring in the 42nd minute with a Foley penalty goal. From that point on it was sheer dominance from the Waratahs, with quick tries to Hanigan, Phipps and Naiyaravoro, the latter giving the big winger a Waratahs record 13 tries for the season.
The Sunwolves refused to surrender however and Yamada was able to get around Folau with a brilliant goose step to score his second try 15 minutes into the second half. The next 10 minutes saw the Waratahs capitalise again with tries to Rona and Wells. Things then went from bad to worse for the Sunwolves in the 70th minute when Fumiaki Tanaka was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on replacement halfback Jake Gordon.
Enjoying a two man advantage for the last ten minutes of the game, the Waratahs were able to race into the record books with three more tries, two to Alex Newsome and another to Naiyaravoro. The final score was a record for the Waratahs of 77-25,
It was a clinical and well disciplined performance from the Waratahs and there were no poor performances, just the odd embarrassing incident from a handful of players. The emphatic win will give the team a real confidence boost as they head into the final round against the Brumbies and into a home final the following weekend.
Aside from the two electrifying tries from Yamada, Hayden Parker’s goal kicking streak, and Leitch’s fending off of Hanigan it was overall a forgettable night for the Sunwolves. They cannot now avoid last position on the overall ladder and will be looking for some sort of redemption when they take on the Reds in Brisbane next weekend.
The Game Changer
The red card handed to Masirewa saw Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson join the calls from the likes of Steve Hansen to see rugby follow the lead of the NRL to have players yellow carded only and the incidents referred for review after the match.
The G&GR MOTM
I gave this to Jed Holloway who was outstanding, but his second row partner Rob Simmons was also very good, as were Kepu and Miller. In the backs I though Foley, Folau and Naiyarovoro were the standouts.
All that really needs to be said here is that it’s a massive shame Naiyarovoro is heading north just as he is finding his career best form. For the future Miller, Holloway and Rona all staked claims for squad inclusion.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Israel Folau (2), Taqele Naiyaravoro (2), Alex Newsome (2), Kurtley Beale, Ned Hanigan, Sekope Kepu, Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona, Michael Wells
Conversions: Bernard Foley (7)
Penalties: Bernard Foley (1)
Tries: Akihito Yamada (2), Michael Leitch
Conversions: Hayden Parker (2)
Penalties: Hayden Parker (2)
Red card – Semisi Masirewa – dangerous tackle
Yellow card – Fumiaki Tanaka – dangerous tackle