The Waratahs have recorded their 10th straight win over the Reds, securing the 28-17 win in a scrappy contest. The Waratahs seemed to control the first half, with the much-hyped “all Wallaby” backline showing glimpses of their class in attack, breaking the line early whilst being backed up by a much improved forward pack. However, the Reds held tough, taking their chances initially to keep in touch with the Waratahs to set up what seemed to be an electric second half.
However, outside of a couple of flashes from both sides, the second half was disjointed, with both sides committing schoolboy errors and penalties that will struggle to bring back the crowd, which was small for what was called “one of the biggest rivalries in Australian sport” by the Fox Sports commentary team. The sides would then trade tries in the final 15 minutes, with the Waratahs emerging from the scrap with the win 28-17.
The Reds got off to a perfect start, regathering the kickoff and they earned a penalty inside the first 45 seconds, however, Bryce Hegarty pushed the kick to the right. Unlike the Reds, the Waratahs would not waste their opportunity at penalty goal, with Bernard Foley converting his attempt from right in front to put the Waratahs ahead 3-0 at 5 minutes.
The Waratahs would continue to press their advantage, with lovely hands through the backline putting them immediately back into the Reds half, and an ill-disciplined penalty from Izack Rodda provided Foley with the perfect opportunity to extend the lead to 6-0.
One of the main talking points from the game has to be the surface, with the cricket ground showing remnants of the Australian cricket side, falling apart at any sign of pressure, which should raise alarm bells for NSW officials since they have two more games on it and a plethora of other sporting fixtures in between.
The Waratahs looked the more dangerous side in the first twenty, with Jake Gordon looking certain to score before the 20th-minute mark before being stopped by a great cover tackle by Isaac Lucas, who looked solid in his run on debut.
Their pressure was rewarded with the sin-binning of JP Smith after he committed a personal foul by tackling Jake Gordon within 2 seconds of taking a quick tap in an offside position. The Waratahs would cross over from the resulting lineout, with a nice sequence of play from Ned Hanigan that saw him take the lineout and back up with a strong carry over the line to push the score out to 13-0.
The Reds would fight back after a couple of strong runs over the advantage lines from the forwards, with Samu Kervei bursting through some soft defence by Hanigan to reduce the margin down to 13-7 at 25 minutes.
However, the Waratahs dominated territory and seemed to control the game during the first half, continuing to press the Queensland line. They would earn a string of penalties and the easiest of penalty shots for Bernard Foley to push the lead out to nine points, with credit to Damien Fitzpatrick for excellent counter-rucking to cause the initial turnover.
Despite the dominance, the Reds would maintain in striking distance of the Waratahs, with Chris Feauai-Sautia bursting through the line after a Kerevi offload attracted the defence in, particularly Kurtley Beale, to allow Feauai-Sautia to cross untouched to leave the score at half time 16-12.
The Waratahs started the second half as a team possessed, with Curtis Rona charging over the line, breaking some poor Reds tackles to score with their first phase with the ball, with Foley missing the kick from the sideline to keep the score at 21-12.
From here, the game seemed to break down for a considerable period, resembling a suburban third-grade game rather than a Super Rugby contest, with both sides committing soft penalties and routine errors.
Queensland particularly seemed to be disjointed throughout the second half, especially in the backline who either overran their passes or threw them behind the ball runners, with at some stages a combination of both.
After realising they were struggling to put consistent passes together, they found a breakthrough when Bryce Hegarty booted ahead for Sefa Naivalu to cross in the corner to reduce the margin back to 21-17, finally reigniting the game.
However as they have done for the majority of the match, the Waratahs struck back straight away after a couple of strong runs from Folau and Hanigan put the Reds on the back foot, allowing Alex Newsome to slice through from a nice Jake Gordon pass and extend the margin out to 11 points.
The Reds would proceed to attack the Waratah line for the remaining 5 minutes, however, the Waratahs held on for a 28-17 win.
- The unsung heroes of this victory will be the NSW forwards, who really showed improvement especially at set-piece time to continue to push the Waratahs to this victory, especially impressed with Harry Johnson-Holmes, who I thought had his best game in Blue
- The Wallaby, I mean Waratah backline showed glimpses of their talent, I would rate the experiment of Beale to fullback and Folau on the wing as a pass, barely, with both seen out of position at times during the match, especially evident during the second and third Reds tries. The Waratahs still need to find a way to get Folau more included in their attack if they want any chances of competing with the Brumbies.
- As for the Reds, they looked disjointed in attack at stages, with a lot of passes going behind the runners, stifling their attack at stages. They don’t seem to have a second option outside of Kerevi and they lacked rhythm without Petaia, they need to find a way to maintain possession, potentially looking to include Isaac Lucas more in their attack in future games.
- Finally, the surface will come under severe scrutiny after this game, with the ground looking more like Bondi beach than the SCG at stages. If I was the Waratahs, I would be seriously nervous about the next two home games at the ground, considering that the ground is expected to hold AFL, NRL and A-League games at the ground in the next month.
The Turning Point
After a stagnant second half, the Reds seemed to re-ignite the contest after crossing with 15 minutes to go. However, the game was sealed 5 minutes later after a lovely ball from Jake Gordon put Alex Newsome in a hole with his first touch of the ball to secure the win.
The GAGR MOTM
Tough choice as no one player really stood out in this contest. This might be controversial, but Michael Hooper really stood up with a captain’s effort in defence, recording 29 tackles with 1 missed (according to Rugby.com.au, along with a couple of crucial plays to turn the ball over at the ruck at key times to help the Waratahs to victory.
With a slew of Wallaby hopefuls playing in this contest, it’s tough to mention how every player performed. However, standouts were Hooper, Rona, Foley and Hanigan (Outside of the missed tackle for the Kerevi try he had a solid game, scoring a try and earning a couple of turnovers that resulted in points) along with the Tongan Thor Taniela Tupou and Samu Kerevi for the Reds.
Tries: Hanigan, Rona, Newsome
Cons: Foley 2
Pens: Foley 3
Tries: Kerevi, Feauai-Sautia, Naivalu