Waratahs reclaim finals berth with bonus-point win
May 18, 2014
Israel Folau was a constant thorn in the Lions' defence
© Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs ultimately secured an impressive bonus-point victory against the Lions at Allianz Stadium, running over and away from their plucky rivals in the second half after handling errors and ill-discipline had cost them dearly in the first stanza.
The Waratahs led by just four points at the interval despite dominating possession and territory, cruelling their advantage with a succession of penalties, but they killed the game with two tries immediately after the break. They were also more disciplined in the second period while the Lions made more errors and missed more tackles, but the hosts crossed again, through Rob Horne, only after the siren after their own errors had cost them at least two more scores.
The Waratahs overran their opponents in the second half (video available only in Australia)
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis was "pleased with the result", acknowledging that "we knew the Lions are strong finishers - they've proved that the last couple of weeks - and it was crucial that we started well in that second half. I thought our outside backs played very well".
Lions captain Warren Whitely lamented: "Seems like we can't play 80 minutes. The previous week, it was the second 40 minutes we played well; this week, the first half we were in it but great performance from the Waratahs, especially in the second half."
Bernard Foley reminded Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie of his worth © Getty Images
Bernard Foley, who scored 21 points, said "we knew if we could just stick to our structures and at our guns it was going to open up".
"We took the foot off the gas just a little bit towards the end, which is a bit disappointing, but it was very enjoyable tonight."
Foley's performance - he played a key role in four of the Tahs' five tries, and kicked seven goals from as many attempts - will have pleased Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie after the news that his incumbent fly-half, Quade Cooper, will miss the June 7 Test against France in Brisbane after sustaining a serious shoulder injury on Saturday night. McKenzie has a plethora of options at his disposal, but Foley's performance delivered a timely reminder of his all-round capabilities.
The 24-year-old former Australia Sevens star opened the scoring with a solo try and provided the second before half-time for midfield partner-in-crime Kurtley Beale with a skilful left-foot grubber kick into the Lions' in-goal area. He then handled twice in the move that delivered the Waratahs' match-sealing third five-pointer after the break, to Horne, and he put the icing on the cake with a sideline conversion after the full-time siren following another key touch for Horne's second five-pointer. All up, Foley slotted five conversions and two penalty goals in a flawless display of goalkicking.
Centre Adam Ashley-Cooper also crossed after reeling in Beale's chip over the top as the Waratahs remained unbeaten at home in 2014 to close to within one competition point of Australian Conference leaders the Brumbies.
Kurtley Beale produced a strong performance at inside centre © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd with AAP
Communication error please reload the page.
Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 4. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups as they are named to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks
Karmichael Hunt has pleaded guilty at Southport Magistrates Court to four charges of cocaine possession
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hailed a massive victory for his side against West Ham to retain their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League on a night all of their rivals won
Ashley Young believes Manchester United got their "just rewards" after his late goal secured a vital win at Newcastle on Wednesday, but manager Louis van Gaal believes his side endured a narrow escape
"South Africa is hungry to once again host rugby's greatest occasion, SARU chief says Jurie Roux after World Rugby announced the tender process
One of world rugby's ultimate professionals, Super Rugby's milestone man Keven Mealamu quickly learned the value of a spare pair of boots
The Chiefs are keeping the ball alive when going into contact, and this makes their low turnover rate all the more impressive, Richard Kelly writes
Join Steve Bunce and Barry Jones each week for the latest news, views and debate from the boxing world.
Head injuries are not a trivial matter in sport - especially in one which will never fully eliminate the danger posed to its drivers
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood was so delighted with his side's last-gasp win over West Brom that he said the three points were better than his wife winning the Euro Millions jackpot
Amir Khan is unlikely to face Kell Brook this summer as he looks to negotiate a fight with Miguel Cotto in America
Louis van Gaal wants his Manchester United players to cut out the backpasses to David De Gea as frustrations mount among supporters over his side's unadventurous approach this season
Brendan Rodgers admits Liverpool's defeat at Crystal Palace in November left him fearing for his job at Anfield
Andre Ward has warned Carl Froch that he will be calling all of the shots over their proposed title unification bout
Emre Can sees his long-term future at Liverpool as a midfielder, but insists he will never be the new Steven Gerrard
Eight years ago, Steve Bunce was offered the chance of buying a 'share' in Tyson Fury, and it would have been a shrewd investment if he had the money
He may try and play down his obsession with his appearance, but Cristiano Ronaldo has apparently been sending a personal stylist to regularly brush up his waxwork model
Who was the 100th man to win a world championship Grand Prix?
Paul Butler tells Inside Boxing he turned down the chance of a trial with Liverpool in order to focus on boxing - and it was the right choice
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner