The New South Wales Waratahs yesterday scored 41 points in the second half to stun the Melbourne Rebels 51-27 in their Super Rugby clash in Sydney.
A week after a demoralizing loss to the Jaguares in Argentina, the Waratahs came from 20-3 down in the first half to demolish the previously unbeaten Rebels.
The bonus point win gets the Waratahs’ season back on track after a draw and a loss in their last two matches.
It also halted the Rebels’ momentum following their superb start to the season with three bonus-point victories.
The Waratahs’ resurgence was built on the use of the high ball to Israel Folau and Curtis Rona on the wings, with the Rebels unable to cope with the aerial bombardment.
“We were put under a lot of pressure in the first half,” NSW captain Michael Hooper said. “We let in some easy tries, but we knew something was building and that was our focus at halftime — to come out and see what we could do under the high ball.”
The Rebels went into the match with all the momentum and started much better than their hosts.
Melbourne center Tom English crossed in the fifth minute after Kurtley Beale dropped the ball on his own line.
Bernard Foley got the home side on the board with a penalty, but Melbourne then took control and skipped away to a 20-3 lead thanks to tries by Japanese international Amanaki Mafi and rising star Jack Maddocks.
Waratahs’ center Lalakai Foketi scored against the run of play right on halftime to make it 20-10 at the break.
However, nobody could have predicted what was to come in the second half as the Waratahs ran in four tries in 16 minutes.
Rob Simmons, Mitch Short, Bryce Hegarty and replacement wing Taqele Naiyaravoro all scored as the home side raced out to a 41-20 lead.
The Rebels got one back when lock Matt Philip touched down under the posts, but a Foley penalty and Naiyaravoro’s second right on full time brought up the half century.
“I think the Waratahs really capitalized on our mistakes,” Melbourne captain Adam Coleman said. “They really plugged the corners well and turned us around and unfortunately we couldn’t swing the momentum in the second half.”
The Rebels play the Sharks at home on Friday.
“The most pleasing thing is we’re going home and going to play in front of our home fans,” Coleman said. “We’re going straight home now so we’ll be home early and hopefully we’ll recover well.”
The Waratahs have a bye next weekend.
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