The NSW Waratahs have secured a resounding 45-25 victory over the Chiefs in one of their best displays all season tonight at Allianz Stadium.
In front of 18,175 delighted fans, the Waratahs held onto top spot on the Australian Conference with an impressive six-try effort. A brace of perfectly executed double tries to Michael Hooper and Israel Folau was just the icing on the cake, after some bruising defence and smart counterattack against a powerful Chiefs side.
The team was led out by inside centre Rob Horne in his 100th match for NSW. The Waratahs were victorious from the very first kick-off, flyhalf Bernard Foley landing it on the 10 metre line, allowing fullback Israel Folau to leap above the Chiefs. He was illegally tackled in the air, which saw Foley kick his side to a 3-0 lead after just one minute.
The Tahs put in some brilliant defence, knocking back the Chiefs after 15 consecutive phases in the NSW half. The home side backing their aggressive style to come out on top of the Chiefs attacking flair.
After repeatedly denying the Chiefs an almost certain try, their scrumhalf Brad Weber scooted right from a scrum on the NSW try-line before throwing a cut-out pass that was intercepted by Israel Folau. He ran over 90 metres to score a breathtaking intercept try. Foley slotted the conversion from the sideline to the delight of the crowd, and the Tahs led 10-0 after 10 minutes.
The Chiefs hit back soon after to get them within five points. Outside-centre Seta Tamanivalu put a bouncing grubber in for himself, NSW scrumhalf Nick Phipps couldn’t re-gather it, spilling the ball as he went to ground. The TMO ruling Tamanivalu had planted it down on the grass.
The NSW backline execution was slick, whilst their scrum was also on point, earning a free kick and showing some early dominance over the Chiefs.
The Chiefs were still keen to execute though, with a pass from halfback Brad Weber to fullback Damian McKenzie creating space. McKenzie then threw an inside ball to Cruden who scored. He couldn’t convert his own try, though, leaving the scores locked up 10-all after 20 minutes of play.
Referee Jaco Peyper stopped play to look at an illegal obstruction from the Chiefs on a Waratahs player at the breakdown. Foley was given a penalty attempt from 36 metres back but pushed it slightly right of the posts.
Shortly after, Peyper stopped play again, this time with a yellow card to NSW number eight Wycliff Palu for a heavy hit. McKenzie took over from Cruden as the Chiefs goal kicker but was unsuccessful in taking the three.
With just under 10 minutes left in the first half, Tahs’ flanker Dean Mumm was pulled up for incorrectly entering the maul. McKenzie didn’t miss his second attempt at goal, handing the Chiefs the lead by 13-10.
The Waratahs never gave up though, as Team Captain Michael Hooper scored another wonderful Waratahs try on the half-time siren. Only just returning from the sin-bin, Wycliff Palu sent a freakish offload to powerful lock Will Skelton. Playing in his 50th Super Rugby match, he had only the fullback to beat. Skelton nonchalantly passed inside to his captain, flying through to score and put his side in front at the break. Foley nailed the kick to give the home side a handy 17-13 lead at half time.
It was set to be a huge second half and the Waratahs didn’t disappoint.
The Chiefs came out putting on 10 phases in attack across the full width of the field. Hooker Nathan Harris took advantage of an overlap to score in the corner. McKenzie was unsuccessful with the conversion, giving the Tahs just the one-point lead 10 minutes in to the second half.
Another brilliant break from Folau, followed by an offload, allowed some quick ball to the left. Hooper then received a pass from Foley before throwing the ball out to his fullback, Andrew Kellaway. The speedster broke through the last line of defence to cross for his debut Super Rugby try. Foley converted bringing the Tahs lead out to 24-18.
The Waratahs passes stuck every time, the Chiefs unable to contain their attack. The action was thick and fast as the home crowd grew vocal in support. A centre field break to Phipps led the charge down field thanks to some quick passing from Zac Guildford and Matt Carraro, making their returns to the starting 15. The Tahs’ live-wire scrumhalf then threw the last pass for Hooper to score his second try of the night. Foley added the extras giving the Tahs a comfortable 31-18 lead.
Folau made yet another successful line-break, with Dean Mumm following the charge to break the line himself. He brushed off defender after defender before being pulled down, his fancy footwork fooling everyone and almost led to another five pointer..
Soon after, in his 100th game for NSW, Rob Horne received a standing ovation by the Waratahs faithful as he left the field.
Making their way just five metres out from the Chiefs line, Phipps managed to take it from the back and scoot into the defenders before throwing an outrageous flick pass before being taken to ground. Folau picked it up off his bootlaces to score his second try of the night and with Foley’s kick again good, the Tahs were out with a 20-point lead.
Shortly after the restart, Cruden saw some space out wide and put a well weighted cross-field kick in for Toni Pulu. The winger went over in the corner, before McKenzie kicked the conversion with only 10 minutes left.
Trying to thwart a Chiefs comeback, the Tahs opted for one last penalty kick. Foley slotted it out to the right leaving the scores at 38-25 to NSW.
With minutes remaining, Club captain Dave Dennis took advantage of a Chiefs’ pill, picking it up and running downfield. He was taken to ground but the ensuing play saw returning from injury flanker Jack Dempsey, break through four defenders to score his 2nd try of his career. Foley pushed the scores out to 45-25.
The siren sounded with the Tahs taking the triumphant 45-25 victory in the end.
The NSW Waratahs have a break for the June international Test break before their round 15 match against the Sunwolves in Japan.
NSW Waratahs, 45 (Hooper (2), Folau (2), Kellaway, Dempsey – tries, Foley – 6 con, 1 pen) defeated Chiefs, 25 (Tamanivalu, Cruden, Harris, Pulu – tries, McKenzie – 1 con, 1 pen).