The Tahs defeated the Queensland Reds on Saturday night 34-3, as they continued their charge into the Super Rugby finals. With the minor premiership already claimed, there was a sense that the game could be a non-event, although both teams challenged that notion throughout the lead-up to the game.
Even with Israel Folau being rested, the Tahs named a strong squad, who had no issues dismantling an injury riddled Reds squad. Kurtley Beale put on a masterclass as he put Jono Lance through for the first try of the game, before scoring two for himself. Nick Phipps rounded out the try scorers for NSW as they strolled to victory.
The match threatened to come to boiling point when Sekope Kepu was sin-binned for throwing a punch at Beau Robinson after he took offence to some late work around the breakdown. Even with an extra man, the Reds didn't look like scoring, and whilst I enjoy beating the Reds, this was sad.
Quite frankly this was a training run for the Waratahs and not that much can be taken from it, they will play either the Brumbies or the Chiefs in a fortnight and either of those two will pose a much greater threat than this toothless Queensland squad.
Let's take a look at five key observations from the game:
1. Set Pieces: The Tahs lineout was terrible last night, it gave the Reds great field position, the Tahs were lucky that the Reds were so terrible.
2. Kurtley: Showed that he can be as effective without Folau playing. He's starting to bring more players into the attack with his smart inside balls. Will be vital to the Tahs finals campaign.
3. Depth: Hooper, Beale and Folau have been great this year, but the Tahs depth is winning them games. Wingers and forwards are able to come in and plug into any position needed. Reminds me of what makes the Sydney Swans so great.
4. Deja Vu: It was only a few years ago that the Reds demolished the Tahs as they swept into the finals that they ultimately won. The tables turned tonight, but it was eerily similar. Hopefully history repeats itself in the finals.
5. Refereeing: Thought the game was too stop-start last night. Extremely long advantage calls meant that the game struggled to have a flow. Hopefully this isn't a trend over the next month.