The NSW Waratahs have gone down to the Melbourne Rebels at the Sydney Cricket Ground as they enter the bye week with work to do.
Despite naming an unchanged starting XV, Rob Penney's side looked entirely different to the one that faced a Brumbies a week prior at ANZ Stadium.
Their own worst enemy throughout the night, it was a performance peppered with a lack of discipline which saw the Waratahs concede 16 penalties to the Rebels 9. Matt Toomua kicked five penalties, which contributed to a perfect night with the boot for the Rebels flyhalf.
Toomua's opposite number, Waratahs fly-half Will Harrison,is yet to miss a kick at the Sydney Cricket Ground as he calmly slotted in one penalty and one conversion off the back of an intercept try by vice captain Alex Newsome.
It was a lone highlight for the home side, who couldn't get their way into the match with only 30% possession and territory to their name across the 80-minutes.
The Waratahs have seen a number of debutants this season, and in the 26th minute of the match Joseph Cotton added to that number coming on for Tom Horton who was taken off briefly for a head injury assessment. He returned for the final minutes of the match, becoming the 17th player to debut for NSW in 2020.
As the Tahs enter a bye week, it signals the halfway point of the Vodafone Super Rugby AU, and having recorded one win and three losses, there's plenty of work to do to finish the second half of the season in stronger fashion.
From the press conference:
“I’m more disappointed for the boys, it’s disappointing for us as staff and supporters of the group. But we’ve got a good group there and I think we were out muscled and I think we were out-passioned today," Rob Penney said.
"I don't know if the short turn-around had a bit of an effect, but we weren't there where we needed to be emotionally and the Rebels taught us a lesson and it's a great credit to them.
“It’s tough this time of year, when you get a cold evening and the dew – I don’t want to use that as an excuse – but it just makes it difficult. They held the ball a lot better than we did. We’ve just got to adapt and be better.
“We were improving [around discipline]. I think against the Western Force we gave no penalties away for offside or not rolling away, so that was a big tick – that had been a hinderance for us all year. But last week we gave a few away and tonight was back to where we’d been previously.
Which might have been off the back of us being a bit off emotionally, a bit off in terms of the passion we needed to bring. When you’re a bit off and another team’s excited and ready to go, those little things become big things.”
Tries: Louwrens, Koroibete
Cons: Toomua 2
Pens: Toomua 5
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant 1: Amy Perrett
Assistant 2: Rueben Keane
TMO: Ian Smith