The Waratahs bounced back from successive losses to beat the Reds 15-13 in a hard-fought derby in Brisbane on Sunday.
The Sydneysiders outscored their hosts two tries to one with Israel Folau crossing for both his side’s five-pointers.
The wet conditions did nothing to dampen the quality of play, as both sides went at each other hammer and tongs for the full 80 minutes in a real tussle, typical of these derbies.
Their Round 1 defeat to the Waratahs, further losses to the Force and Rebels and last weekend’s draw with the Blues has left the Reds season in disarray, while the Waratahs knew that victory would keep them in touch with the Brumbies and Rebels at the top of the Australian Conference.
The win means they are still in third place on their conference table, albeit three points adrift of the second-placed Rebels and with a game in hand, while the Reds are still languishing at the bottom of the standings just a point behind the Force, who are in fourth place.
The Reds made a bright start and had dominated the early exchanges. They held the upperhand at scrum-time and their dominance at the set-piece was rewarded in the 12th minute when referee Ben O’Keefe awarded them a penalty try, after they shoved the Waratahs off the ball at several scrums close to ther visitors’ try-line.
The Waratahs soaked up the early pressure and when they eventually gained possession for an extended period, they made it count with Jed Holloway setting up their first try with a superb 40-metre break.
His progress was halted deep inside the Reds’ half and from the ensuing ruck, the ‘Tahs shifted the ball wide to Israel Folau who got over the whitewash.
The closing passage of the opening half was played at a fast and furious pace, with the Reds on the attack inside the Waratahs’ half, after the half-time hooter had gone. However, Waratahs skiper Michael Hooper then affected a turnover close to his 22-metre line which led to a crucial score for his side.
The Waratahs took the ball through the phases and were soon deep inside the Reds’ 22. With home side’s defence in disarray, Nick Phipps threw a long pass to Folau, who got over for his second try.
Foley slotted the conversion which meant the Waratahs led 12-7 at the interval.
More to follow…