Waratahs 41-13 Warriors
07 February, 2011
|Ryan Cross breaks through the Warriors defense - (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images) |
The HSBC Waratahs have started the year on the right note with a 41-13 victory over the Air Pacific Fiji Warriors in front of a strong pre-season crowd of 7568 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Friday.
In an emphatic display, the HSBC Waratahs ran in seven tries to one and it could have been more had conditions been more suitable.
Temperatures hovering around 27C and humidity at over 85% combined to turn the ball into a cake of soap with handling errors punctuating the second half.
When the ball was dry, however, the Tahs looked more like the team which last played at the SFS in a brilliant final round victory over the Hurricanes in May.
The home side started the scoring in the fourth minute when a Drew Mitchell kick-return resulted in Kurtley Beale touching down in the left corner.
It was then the turn of newcomer Afa Pakalani to get in on the act, breaking a tackle to score in the seventh minute then crossing two minutes later after a well-worked run around by Berrick Barnes.
Drew Mitchell then sealed the opening quarter with a try from a Beale grubber, however the play started way back inside the NSW quarter with a bust by Wycliff Palu. The rampaging No.8 had a memorable first match back after suffering a season-ending knee injury against the Crusaders ten months ago.
Barnes was unsuccessful with his four first quarter conversion attempts leaving the score 20-0 at the first drinks break.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter Lachie Turner scored in the left corner following some great lead-up work from Palu and Tatafu Polota-Nau who set the defence on their heels with overpowering charges.
Barnes this time nailed the sideline conversion for a 27-0 lead.
It was clear after 30 minutes that conditions had started to play a major role with handling errors lifting for both sides and cruelling attacking opportunities.
The Tahs had to wait until three minutes from half time for the next score which saw Turner cross again after a well-worked move from the scrum base. Barnes split the uprights with his second sideline conversion of the quarter which sent NSW to the sheds with a 34-0 lead.
As expected, Chris Hickey rang the changes at half time with Wycliff Palu, Ben Mowen, Kane Douglas, Drew Mitchell, Kurtley Beale and Tom Carter all given an early mark.
The new dry ball in the second half didn’t last long with Luke Burgess pulling off a great tackle on one of the Fijian locks to squeeze the ball out and into the hands of the Tahs. Shortly after Cross carried two defenders over the line and muscled the ball to ground for the seventh try of the game.
Barnes’ conversion took the score to 43-0 after 44 minutes, however with the changes continuing to come over the final 35 minutes, the tourists were able to capitalise.
A penalty to Dan Rawaqa put the Warriors on the board before three-quarter time by which point Phil Waugh, Luke Burgess, Al Baxter, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Dean Mumm, Lachie Turner and Berrick Barnes had left the field.
Rawaqa – a veteran of 13 Tests and a former Top 14 player with Agen and Grenoble – kicked another penalty four minutes into the final stanza before reserve prop Navi Bolatagici crashed over in the dying moments for a consolation try.
The Fijian No 10 converted to finish the scoring at 41-13. Scorers:
- Tries: Afa Pakalani (2), Lachie Turner (2), Kurtley Beale, Drew Mitchell, Ryan Cross. Conversions: Berrick Barnes (3) Air Pacific Fiji Warriors
– Try: Navi Bolatagici. Penalties: Dan Rawaqa (2). Conversion: Rawaqa. Story courtesy of sarugby.com.