Posted on February 21, 2015
Rebels v Waratahs 2015 - R2
The Waratahs had to fight to the bitter end, but 10 points in the final 10 minutes saw them edge the Rebels 38-28 in their Super Rugby Round Two match in Melbourne on Friday.
In the often brutal affair the two teams scored four tries each, but the boot of Bernard Foley proved to be the difference - as he added three penalties to his three conversions - to seal the deal.
Kurtley Beale, who produced a Man of the Match performance, also kicked a penalty in an encounter where the Rebels showed that they have a lot more grunt than in past years - with their defence in particular a much-improved aspect of their game.
It was a much improved performance by the Waratahs after a week of soul searching, following their losing performance at home to the Western Force in last weekend's season-opener.
Wallaby Kurtley Beale was a star performer for the Waratahs, scoring a try off a Bernard Foley break and setting up a try for Stephen Hoiles with a skilful chip-kick and re-gather.
The Rebels, who rocked the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend, were on course to beat both last season's finalists when they drew level at 28-all with 14 minutes after a try to replacement wing Sefanaia Naivalu.
But Foley broke through two tackles and sent Beale racing over for the clinching converted try with seven minutes left and then kicked a 78th-minute penalty to ensure victory.
Foley finished with 15 points from three conversions and three penalties.
"We were disappointing in the physicality area last week so tonight that was a big focus for us," Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis said.
"The most pleasing thing for us is that we made a lot of errors, but we scrambled well and stuck to our game plan.
"Our focus is holding on to the ball and just being patient and there were a couple of loose turnovers, but on the back of that we did have some good phases and scored some good tries," he said.
Powerful Fijian wing Taqele Naiyaravoro scored two tries, but he blotted his performance when he left the Waratahs a man down at a crucial time for intentionally knocking the ball over his own in-goal area and he was sent to the sin bin.
While Naiyaravoro was off the field, the Rebels drew level and the Waratahs had to work overtime to keep them out with the home crowd cheering their team on.
"That was a tough game, we knew it was going to be and credit to the Tahs, they hung in and really put it on us at the back end," said skipper Scott Higginbotham, who scored the Rebels' opening try.
"Coming up against a big forward pack like the Tahs you have to make your tackles and there were a few we missed."
The win in Melbourne means that the Waratahs have now won four consecutive Super Rugby matches on the road.
The Waratahs will be able to rest up with a bye in round three, but will return for the grudge match in Round Four against the Reds on Saturday, March 7, in Brisbane.
Man of the match: You can always bargain on Scot Higginbotham to produce something special, while Mike Harris is a bog acquisition as well. Taqele Naiyaravoro was powerful with ball in hand - getting a double. Bernard Foley was the director of the orchestra, but Kurtley Beale was the star performer and our Man of the Match.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Higginbotham, Timani, Burgess, Naivalu
Cons: Harris 4
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Hoiles, Naiyaravoro 2, Beale
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley 3, Beale
Yellow card: Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs, 64 - professional foul, deliberately knocking the ball over the dead-ball line)
Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Pat McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Peter Betham.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)