Waratahs ease past Queensland Reds
July 12, 2014
Queensland Reds could have done with Quade Cooper
© Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs extended their franchise-record winning run to seven matches with a routine performance against their oldest rivals that showed they are still a potent offensive machine even without Israel Folau.
Queensland Reds dominated possession and territory in the first half, but they could not breach the Waratahs' Super Rugby-best defence while the visitors claimed maximum reward from their opportunities. The Tahs then dominated the play in the second half with a strong effort to run away with the victory while clearing the bench to ensure maximum game time going into the finals.
Kurtley Beale was at the heart of the Waratahs' attack, and he set up Jono Lance for the opening try with a dart into traffic before dishing off a short ball to put the fullback into space enough to cross the line. Beale then crossed unopposed after a slick backline move, and he completed his double when he accepted a pop pass from Stephen Hoiles to cap breakaway phase play in the second half. Nick Phipps, playing on the wing in the final stages, claimed the bonus-point try when he touched down in the right corner, icing a movement that featured slick hands from Mitchell Chapman and a powerful run from replacement winger Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper and coach Michael Cheika were not overly concerned by the team's faltering lineout, with the skipper saying they had two weeks to work on the "chink" in their armour.
The Reds, who have suffered such a terrible injury toll this season, were hit again when they lost Ben Lucas and Ben Tapuai in the first half. Lucas limped out with an injured right knee, while Tapuai left the pitch on a Medi-Cab after landing heavily following a tackle gone wrong. They also lost Ben Daley in the closing minutes, the prop leaving with his left arm in a sling.
The match also featured two yellow cards, once to each side. Sekope Kepu was sin-binned in the first half for punching Beau Robinson, while the Reds' Sam Johnson was carded for an inadvertent reckless tackle on Beale.
Hooper was "happy with the win", saying it was "good to put a few tries on and keep them tryless".
Reds 3-34 Waratahs (Australia only)
"We've got a week off now, but it was a tough game," Hooper said. "They came out really tough and ripping in t us at the start, and we had to weather that, but I'm happy with the boys' effort. We've got to do better from the start, and that's something we can work on in the next two weeks."
Reds captain James Horwill lamented, not for the first time this season, "just stupid little errors". Horwill said the Waratahs "hurt us from long range a lot of the time, and they hurt us from our errors early on ... it's not good enough at this level".
"The effort was good but unfortunately the execution was very poor ... our execution's been really poor this year."
Cheika said: "We wanted to just work hard. We know we're not playing next week so we needed to get physical. First half we were physical, made some good hits, and second half we just tried to keep doing that. When we did have opportunities, we took them. And some of our guys who haven't played too much footy - like Cam Crawford and Taqele - did some good things, and that's helpful for us with the depth going forward."
Jono Lance scored the first try to haunt the Reds on his return with the Waratahs © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September