The NSW Waratahs tossed aside the Melbourne Rebels four tries to one for a bonus-point 35-19 win in their Super 15 Rugby derby in Melbourne on Friday.
The Waratahs, who were shattered to lose to defending champions Queensland Reds on the final siren last week, were always in charge and their victory over the Rebels was never in doubt.
Centre Tom Carter scored a first-half double to put the Waratahs ahead 22-6 at halftime as the Rebels, looking to improve on the wooden spoon in their debut season, were off the pace in their first outing after a first-round bye.
Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu charged through several weak tackles to score while exciting newcomer fullback Bernard Foley clinched the Waratahs’ bonus point just four minutes after halftime.
The Rebels, fielding new Wallaby recruit James O’Connor at inside centre alongside English fly-half Danny Cipriani, often let themselves down with ill-discipline and handling errors.
The Waratahs, coached by Michael Foley this season, rumbled to a 29-6 lead before O’Connor pulled back two penalties midway through the second half.
Melbourne fought back with a penalty try in the 66th minute after New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence ruled that the Waratah pack had collapsed a rolling maul near their try-line and also sin-binned Wallaby hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.
But in Polota-Nau’s absence NSW fly-half Daniel Halangahu kicked a penalty as referee Lawrence advised Rebels’ Welsh skipper Gareth Delve that he had given his side a white card for the citing commissioner to investigate a complaint by Carter of an eye gouge.
Waratahs’ coach Foley was delighted with the way his team bounced back from their first-round disappointment against the Reds.
“To turn around after six days and the disappointment of last week to come away with that result was very pleasing,” Foley said.
“The Rebels tested us at the breakdown and took a lot of energy out of us but credit to the boys they kept at it.”
Melbourne coach Damien Hill said the final margin was disappointing and he lamented his side’s high number of missed tackles.
“We missed 30 tackles in the first half and only four in the second and that’s when we were competitive,” Hill said.
“We know the problems are fixable.” — AFP