The Waratahs have ended a 538-day wait between wins, dominating newcomers Fijian Drua 40-10 at CommBank Stadium to open Super Rugby Pacific.
In a fiery clash, Darren Coleman’s men controlled the opening half thanks to a brutal showing from their forward pack.
Led by Wallabies Angus Bell and Jake Gordon, the Waratahs raced out to a 40-3 lead and never looked back to secure the bonus-point victory.
After a disappointing 2021, the home side showed off improvements and immediately got on the front foot, attacking from their own 22 as James Turner found space.
The bold move put the home side in perfect position to capitalise from some early ill-discipline as Ben Donaldson slotted the opening three points from 45 out.
Further penalties from the newcomers allowed the Waratahs to build pressure and eventually find the line after a damaging run from Angus Bell, with the impressive Will Harris barging over.
Two further penalties from Donaldson allowed Darren Coleman’s men to build scoreboard pressure as they hunted for their first win in nearly 18 months.
With a strong Fijian contingency in the crowd, the Drua struggled to covert several opportunities on the goal-line as the Waratahs’ defence and set-piece game took control to head into the break with a 21-3 lead.
This continued into the second half as a drop from the kick-off allowed the NSW-based side to attack, with Angus Bell's perfect crash ball and offload setting up Lalakai Foketi for the fourth try
The Drua’s nightmare period continued when Jone Koroiduadua went for an unnecessary dangerous cleanout on Dave Porecki, earning a yellow card.
From here, the Waratahs took advantage of this as his opposite number Bell was rewarded for a strong game, running on to a perfect ball from the returning Jed Holloway for their fourth try of the game.
Captain Jake Gordon continued his strong domestic form from 2021, snatching an intercept to extend the lead and seal the bonus point.
Drua captain Nemani Nagusa would get a consolation try in the 64th minute, finding the line for their first try in Super Rugby Pacific.
In the end, it was all the Waratahs in the historic opener, getting new coach Darren Coleman off to the ideal start as they got their first win since August 29th 2020.
WARATAHS 40: Tries: Harris, Porecki, Foketi, Bell, Gordon, Cons: Donaldson (3/5), Pens Donaldson (3/3)
DRUA 10: Tries: Nagusa, Cons: Nagusa (1/1) Pens: Kerr (1/1)
WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Dave Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Geoff Cridge, Lachie Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, James Turner, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Dylan Pietsch, Alex Newsome
RESERVES: Tom Horton, Tetera Faulkner, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Carlo Tizzano, Henry Robertson, Tane Edmed, Jamie Roberts.
DRUA (1-15): Jone Koroiduadua, Tevita Ikanivere, Samuela Tawake, Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Meli Derenalagi, Kitione Salawa, Nemani Nagusa (c), Simione Kuruvoli, Baden Kerr, Vinaya Habosi, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Apisalome Vota, Kitione Ratu, Selesitino Ravutaumada
RESERVES: Mesulame Dolokoto, Timoci Sauvoli, Manasa Saulo, Viliame Rarasea, Vilive Miramira, Peni Matawalu, Caleb Muntz, Onisi Ratave
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Referee: Reuben Keane, Matt Kellahan