Melbourne Rebels 19 – 35 Waratahs
Three first half tries, including a pair for inside centre Tom Carter helped secure the Waratahs a well deserved away win in a physical 35-19 victory over the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.
Nine points from the boots of captain Daniel Halangahu and newcomer Bernard Foley, together with further tries for Sekope Kepu and Bernard Foley either side of the break put the visitors out of sight after just 44 minutes. Although the Rebels notched up a further two penalties and a converted try, they could not contend with the visitors’ dominant all round performance, that earned the praise of Waratahs Head Coach Michael Foley after the match.
“After the disappointment of last week and a six day turnaround, to have come away with that result was really pleasing,” he said. “The Rebels defence was really good, at times they were able to lift us up and drive us backwards; they tested us at the breakdown but we still stuck at it.”
Newcomer Bernard Foley wasted no time getting involved, putting in some early carries and earning good yards, with wings Adam Ashley-Cooper and Tom Kingston taking opportunities with ball in hand.
With both sides putting in plenty of big hits, the Waratahs showed their composure, building the phases and testing the home defence with effective use of their ball carrying forwards and good support play.
It took only 10 minutes before their pressure was rewarded, their opening try coming as a result of recycled possession, as they worked their way up the pitch. Earning a ruck in front of the posts, scrum half Sarel Pretorius found inside centre Tom Carter, who sliced through the defence to dive under the posts.
Carter added his second 15 minutes later, this time in the left hand corner, after a break from dynamic openside flanker Chris Alcock. A second Halangahu conversion and a Bernard Foley penalty took the score to 17-6 on the half hour, before a converted try from prop Sekope Kepu, created by a darting break from fullback Foley, extended the visitors’ lead to 22-6 at the end of the first period.
Foley further strengthened his case for the No. 15 jersey by scoring a well deserved try of his own on 44 minutes but the Rebels hit back with two more penalties before being awarded with a penalty try in the 65th minute, referee Bryce Lawrence penalising NSW for illegally halting a driving maul.
With the Rebel Army believing they had something to cheer, the home side appeared to be staging a fightback. With the scoreboard at 35-19 in NSW’s favour with less than 10 minutes remaining, the last of the replacements took to the field as the clock counted down to full time, with breakaway Jono Jenkins making his NSW debut for Alcock in an earlier speight of substitutions. A final Halangahu three-pointer sealed the victory, although the Waratahs will be justifiably pleased with the end result and the 80 minute performance, a knee injury in the final quarter to replacement hooker Damien Fitzpatrick could prove to be significant, with the hooker set to undergo scans within the next 48 hours.
HSBC Waratahs 35 (tries: Carter 2, Kepu, Foley cons: Halangahu 3, pens: Foley, Halangahu 2) d
Melbourne Rebels 19 (tries: Penalty try , cons: O’Connor, pens: O’Connor 4)