The Waratahs ran out 33-17 victors against the Chiefs on Saturday and sent an ominous sign to the competition whilst doing so. Slated for their poor away form, the Tahs turned out a solid eighty minutes of rugby with few defensive lapses and a foray of attacking opportunities.
The game was a cagey affair from the start, in the early stages both teams traded a penalty goal , the first real excitement occurred when Alofa Alofa was denied a try early by the TMO, but this was quickly rectified as Israel Folau crossed for the opening try shortly afterwards. With no further tries in the first half, the Waratahs headed into the sheds leading 13-3. A chiefs resurgence with two quick tries meant that they took a one point lead with seventeen minutes to play. A Dave Dennis try gave the Tahs the lead and then Bernard Foley crossed after the siren to leave the final score at 33-17.
This result came off the back of a true 'team effort' that you always hear about but very rarely see. Not a single Waratahs player had a bad game and the backline and forward pack worked tirelessly as a unit both in defence and offence.
This result should send a clear message to the rest of the competition that the Waratahs are gearing up for a run late into the season, whilst they have won games recently, this was the first major test. And they aced it.
Whilst there is still a lot of room for improvement, the Waratahs look like they're starting to piece together what is required to take the team to the next level, their set pieces were improved, they didn't fade in and out of the games and for once they were the more disciplined side.
With a few weeks off due to the international games, this was a great way to start the break.
As usual we take a look at five key points from the game:
1) Nick Phipps: I've been critical this season, but his last two games have been great. He's definitely not the best in his position but he works hard and genuinely seems to care.
2) Tatafu Polota-Nau: His best game of the season in my eyes, made some massive hits and apparently lost two teeth. Mammoth effort from him.
3) Adam Ashley-Cooper: Had a great game against quality opposition, he's staking a big claim to win back the outside centre role for the Wallabies.
4) Discipline: Too many times this season the Waratahs have let poor discipline ruin a game, this week it was the Chiefs who fell into this trap, especially around the breakdown. A welcome change.
5) Kane Douglas: With the confirmation he's going to Europe after this season, it's becoming more and more obvious how big a loss he will be. Probably the most underrated player in the squad. He's that tireless workman every forward pack needs and he played his heart out tonight.
Hopefully the boys enjoy the next few weeks off, the deserve it.