Folau brace puts Rebels to the sword

21 Mar 2014
Folau brace puts Rebels to the sword

The Waratahs have returned to the top of the Australian Super Rugby conference for at least the next 24 hours after a comprehensive 32-8 win over the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

After a tense opening half saw the 'Tahs go into the break ahead 11-8, the home side put on an attacking masterclass in the second period as they scored three unanswered tries to seal their third win of the season, along with their fourth bonus-point.

The Rebels have never won at Allianz Stadium and that trend looked set to continue after just three minutes when the Waratahs crossed for their first try of the night thanks to Alofa Alofa, who finished off what was an impressive build-up.

However the visitors didn't give up on their high pressure game plan and it paid off in the 28th minute when captain Scott Higginbotham levelled the score at 5-5.

The two sides traded penalties for the rest of the half and the Waratahs were looking suscpetible to cracking under the Rebels' pressure going into half time.

But 'Tahs fans needn't have worried as Michael Cheika's men came out of the sheds with all guns blazing.

Peter Betham scored a memorable 40-metre try to get the ball rolling in the 43rd minute before Israel Folau scored his seventh try of the season, with Bernard Foley nailing the conversion to see the Waratahs leap to a 25-8 lead.

It was all going pear-shaped for the Rebels and their problems were compounded when Roberts was sent to the bin after being shown a yellow card for preventing a quick throw into the lineout.

Folau put the icing on the cake with six minutes to go, crossing once more after a clinical break by Kurtley Beale with Foley converting once more to make it 32-8.

His second score of the night gave him eight tries for the year after just four games and seemingly in striking distance of the all-time individual season record shared by Joe Roff (1997) and Rico Gear (2005).

The win is the Waratahs third of the season and will give them plenty of confidence ahead of their tough two-game run in South Africa against the Sharks in Durban and the Stormers in Cape Town.