Waratahs demolish Sunwolves to secure top spot on the Australian conference. - Green and Gold Rugby
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Waratahs demolish Sunwolves to secure top spot on the Australian conference.

Waratahs demolish Sunwolves to secure top spot on the Australian conference.

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 Match

1st Half:

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.

Folau scores his first try of the night.

Folau scores his first try of the night.

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.

Hayden Parker feeds his back line.

Hayden Parker’s record breaking sequence of 38 goals came to an end.

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.

Second Half:

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.

Taqele Naiyarovoro runs in a try.

Taqele Naiyarovoro runs in a try.

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,

WARATAHS:

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.

SUNWOLVES:

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.

Wallaby watch

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.

Red card reaction from Semisi Masirewa.

Red card reaction from Semisi Masirewa.

The Details

Crowd: 18,059.

Score & Scorers

Waratahs 77
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) 

Sunwolves 25
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

  • Chinese Dave

    Thanks for the morning write up Jeremy!

    Lots of thoughts after this game. The Waratahs played well, they played like a good Kiwi team, there were forwards with good handling skills, running in support play, Kepu was fantastic, playing the link up like a back. This was no doubt helped by the quality of the opposition, but you can only play what you’re up against and the Tahs of old would have let their foot off the gas and gotten themselves into trouble (like that Kings game). I’ll admit I was ready to see the back of Gibson early this year, as well as Hanigan and Robertson, but I’ve been proven wrong and happy to be.

    I have to disagree about Ta1ele. He’s a great physical specimen and quite skilled for the position. I’m sad to see him leave the Waratahs, but wouldn’t want to see him in Gold. His decision making is awful and he turns around about as fast as a 100m crane in a Homebush building site. We have better options.

    For the red and yellow, I have to say Tanaka’s should have also been red, and it pisses me off to no end hearing the ex-players banging on about how it’s not that bad. In an era where there are discussions in England about disallowing full contact Rugby at school level, it’s infuriating to hear idiots like Kearns going on about how it’s not that bad really and the player got it wrong, blah blah blah.

    One more point (or half troll, half point). Foley had his usual crappy in-game kicking, but he deserves a lot of credit for his leadership. Two very different leadership challenges last week and this, and in both, his leadership was exceptional. Backup Wallabies captain perhaps?

    As an English football fan, I’m faced with a similar dilemma. Both campaigns started with my team as no hopers and now suddenly we’re well in the mix. Should I take off my cynical glasses and start believing? To paraphrase the old saying, is it really better to have hoped and lost than to have never hoped at all? Over to you.

    • IIPA

      I agree under the rules Masirewas was probably a red and Tanaka was lucky. My issue is the punishment cruelling the content. Masirewa was careless, the main part of the tackle was after the ball had gone and he could have avoided the clumsy flip put down. But it wasn’t a deliberate, pre-meditated act of dirty play. That’s what the red card send off should be for.

      Otherwise ten in the bin and that player can be replaced by another after ten. This was we are punishing the careless player not wrecking his entire teams chances

      • Chinese Dave

        Problem is, without cracking down on this stuff, there will soon be no content. Do we want Rugby to be around in ten years? The players have to be protected, it doesn’t matter what the intent was. The differentiation between premeditated stuff and careless stuff, as far as I’m concerned, should be left for the post match proceedings.

        I lived in the US as a kid, and I watched live (on TV) a Detroit Lions game where an offensive linesman was pushed and landed on his head. He broke his neck and was carried off the field and was a quadriplegic. I don’t want to see that in Rugby, and there were two instances last night where that could have happened.

        • IIPA

          Yes agree with all that but I think sending off a player who has been careless/negligent and allowing him to be replaced after ten still acts as a big personal deterrent to the player. A) he has to sit there and watch someone fill in for him and potentially take his spot and B) he still has to front up and face the judiciary.

      • Chinese Dave

        Problem is, without cracking down on this stuff, there will soon be no content. Do we want Rugby to be around in ten years? The players have to be protected, it doesn’t matter what the intent was. The differentiation between premeditated stuff and careless stuff, as far as I’m concerned, should be left for the post match proceedings.

        I lived in the US as a kid, and I watched live (on TV) a Detroit Lions game where an offensive linesman was pushed and landed on his head. He broke his neck and was carried off the field and was a quadriplegic. I don’t want to see that in Rugby, and there were two instances last night where that could have happened.

  • Andy

    I have criticised Holloway this year for not stepping up but I think he’s been superb at lock. A genuine 4/6 option for the Wallabies the way he is playing. Miller too could be a squady.
    Such a handy player.

    • Mica

      Yep Miller has been great in replacing Hooper. This does however need to be in the context of the opposition. It will be interesting to see how he goes against the stronger sides. This may be controversial, but from what I have seen in the matches he seems to be a more balanced 7 than Hooper without losing much at all in attack.

  • Red cards are hard, but necessary to stamp out illegal play. I like the compromise proposal, that Red cards should see the player off for the rest of the game but that after 10 minutes a replacement player can be sent on to bring the numbers back up. The player suffers, the team suffers some punishment but the spectacle of the game is not totally ruined.

    Even when the Sunnies were in front, I always thought the Tahs were in control and would win. Full credit to them, they stuck to their structures and came out on top. The Red card only blew out the score.

    • OnTheBurst

      Yes good compromise proposal. Think that strikes a good balance

  • Archie

    That red card was a farce. The wolves got absolutely rogered by the officials. The game was so competitive until that point. Not good

    • Bobas

      Wouldn’t have been red or even replayed on the screen had the game been played in the land of the fat white clowns.

      • Archie

        Are these the same fat white clowns you’ve lost the Bledisloe to for nearly two decades?

        • Bobas

          Yeah, we’ve been losing it. Because it’s haunted.

    • Mica

      Yep – agreed. I thought first point of contact with the ground was usually considered in this decision.
      When I watched it I thought it was a pretty clear yellow, couldn’t believe he got a red for it.

  • Nutta

    I was there live so I haven’t had the benefit of a dozen camera angles in slo-mo. But to me that was no red and it was obvious it was no red. Very much a shame.

    Good win Tarts.

    • Bobas

      Yeah, he didn’t drive him into the ground, he flipped him accidentally. But to quote Marious, ‘He didn’t finish him off’.

      • Braveheart81

        I disagree. He didn’t just lift him and drop him. There was still force being applied by Masirewa to propel Foley towards the ground. It had lifting beyond the horizontal, tackled player landing on their head and force from the tackler. That has pretty consistently been a red card offence in the last couple of years and the judiciary agreed.

    • Braveheart81

      I was pretty certain it was going to be red at the ground. Foley landed on his head and there was significant force applied by Masirewa. He would have been very lucky to get away with a yellow based on the last couple of seasons of rulings.

      • Nutta

        I confess I was pretty certain the Ref was going to pull a red to once the ho-ha started. But in my opinion there is a marked difference in knowing what he was going to get based on the contradictory idiocy of what we have seen over the last couple of months in-particular versus knowing what the event actually deserved in the larger interests of the game of rugby itself. We continue to over-react to the relatively innocuous, hide away from actually confronting the contradictions in the contest and ignore the true threats to the game IMO. For me, therein lies the greater sadness.

  • Brumby Runner

    I only watched the first half before turning over to the Tour. But on his showing in that half of the game, Foley was only a standout for his errors. Then it’s hardly a good barometer if the other side is down a player for the whole of the second half and a second player for the last 10 minutes.

    Up til half time, the Sunwolves were certainly in the game and as usual scored some impressive tries. Those by Yamada and Leitch were as good as any.

    Folau’s first try was scored off the back of two clear forward passes. Not a lot between the two sides up to 40 minutes.

    • Bobas

      Foley came good after that it must be said his passing was crisp and in front of the man. I hope he keeps the confidence up and takes it into the finals.

      • Bay35Pablo

        If he cannot come good against a team of 14 with his forward pack thus rolling, you have to wonder.
        He did the same pointless kicking when he should have kept the ball in hand. Against 14 no less. He finally started running later in the 2nd half and started (unsurprisingly) carving them up and making yards, rather than kicking the ball back to a team of 14 (?!!?!?).

        Both Foley and Phipps are IMHo the main weakness of this team.
        NSWRU: “Hey, our 9-10 pairing is the Wallabies pairing!!!”
        Tahs fans “Great, stuffed at 2 levels.”

  • John Tynan

    As usual, not too much sensible to add, except that I turned off at exactly 8:29pm, which was the red card, game gone.
    If I’m doing that, and I love my rugby, then we’re battling…

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