The Waratahs defeated the Melbourne Rebels 32-8 on Friday, in a game that was defined by poor handling with occasional flashes of brilliance.
Tries to Alofa Alofa, Peter Betham and a double to Israel Folau gave the Waratahs their fourth bonus point from as many games, setting the cornerstone for a top finish this season.
The first half saw Alofa Alofa score in the third minute, yet they were unable to capitalise on mountains of possession over the next twenty minutes. Scott Higginbotham's 27th minute try levelled the scores at 5-5. At half time the score was 11-8 in favour of the tahs, who lead only due to some horrendous kicking from Rebels fly-half Bryce Hegarty.
It became obvious the Michael Cheika had read the riot act to his players at half-time, as the tahs came out looking much more focused. Instead of throwing constant no-look passes, they aimed to play smarter inside balls that fed off the solid platform created by the forwards. Tries to Betham and Folau in the first ten minutes of the second half put the game out of reach, and a Folau try with seven minutes to go secured all five points.
It was obvious to all spectators at the game that the playing surface looked suspect and this caused some issues in the scrum, an area that the Tahs still need to work on.
Man of the match Kurtley Beale was imperious throughout the night and he was the catalyst for the majority of the tahs attacking plays.
Ultimately the Rebels never looked like a major threat and whilst their forwards created opportunities, their back line lacked the experience and talent to turn those chances into points.
1. Sloppy play: The tahs gave away too much possession by trying to make the impossible plays, they got away with it against the Rebels. If they try that against the league leading Sharks next week, it will end in tears.
2. Back Three: The Tahs back three of Alofa, Folau and Betham showed what they were capable of when given an opportunity. Their talent will be pivotal in the Tahs securing as many bonus points as possible.
3. Kurtley Beale: Fully deserved the man of the match honours, I was worried how he would bounce back from the big hits he took last week. He is improving each week.
4. Tah Man: This was the first game I could attend this year and Tah Man's dancing has improved dramatically, it seems Cheika's edict to entertain the fans has reached all facets of the club.
5. Will Skelton: Promoted to start this week, I thought he had a great game laying some huge hits whilst also making some barnstorming runs, he looked absolutely exhausted when he was subbed off, but his physicality will be needed in South Africa.
So ultimately class won out in this match-up, what did you think of the game?
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