The NSW Waratahs have secured back-to-back victories after downing the Western Force 28-8 on the Gold Coast this evening, as Michael Hooper celebrated his 150th Super Rugby appearance.
The Force made their intentions known in the opening minutes, with plenty of ball movement in what was a searching raid into the NSW defensive 22m.
Will Harrison would open their account with a penalty, continuing his exceptional form in front of goal. The young flyhalf soon followed that up with a clutch play inside his own 22m, showcasing his athletic ability to stop a crucial 50-22 chance for the hosts.
Richard Kahui turned to his boot to help the Force find the line shortly after, kicking cleverly in behind the Waratahs defence for a chasing Brynard Stander.
It was a see-sawing affair in the first half as Harrison continued to knock over penalties at will, notching 100 points for the Waratahs – just the 18th player in Super Rugby history to do so.
Jake Gordon continued his form from the previous week against the Reds, busy in attack and playing a crucial role in the lead up to the Waratahs first try through Alex Newsome.
Jack Maddocks – who laid on the final ball for the Tahs first try – would open the scoring in the second, plucking an intercept from Jono Lance and heading to the line untouched.
It was an arm wrestle beyond that, as the Force tried to fight their way back into it with a weight of possession, but the Waratahs defence continued to hold strong.
The Waratahs had their chances – with tries to Maddocks and Gordon disallowed – before Harry Johnson-Holmes finished things off after barging over late.
It was an important victory for Rob Penney’s side, who continue their push for a finals place as they now prepare for a trip to Canberra to face the Brumbies in Round 8.
Match Centre: click here
NSW Waratahs: (1-15) Tom Robertson, Tom Horton, Tetera Faulkner, Tom Staniforth, Rob Simmons, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Jack Dempsey, Jake Gordon, Will Harrison, Alex Newsome, Karmichael Hunt, Lalakai Foketi, James Ramm, Jack Maddocks.
Reserves: (16-23) Robbie Abel, Angus Bell, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Ned Hanigan, Hugh Sinclair, Mitch Short, Ben Donaldson, Joey Walton.
Tries: A. Newsome 35, J. Maddocks 45, H. Johnson-Holmes 80
Conversions: W. Harrison 37, 46
Penalties: W. Harrison 9, 20, 32
Force: (1-15) Pek Cowan, Feleti Kaitu'u, Kieran Longbottom, Jeremy Thrush, Fergus Lee Warner, Henry Stowers, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Jono Lance, Brad Lacey, Richard Kahui, Kyle Godwin, Byron Ralston, Jake Strachan.
Reserves: (16-23) Andrew Ready, Chris Heiberg, Tom Sheminant, Johan Bardoul, Ollie Atkins, Nick Frisby, Nick Jooste, Jack McGregor.
Tries: B. Stander 15
Conversions: I. Prior 28
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant 1: Amy Perrett
Assistant 2: Graham Cooper
TMO: Brett Cronan
From the press conference:
“It’s great for the spirit of the team, the boys are pretty pumped about it. It’s something we’ve been trying to build for a while, we scrapped one [a win] early in the year and couldn’t back it up, but it’s more exciting to see improvement in the group,” – Rob Simmons.
“There was lots of really good contributions throughout [the match], everyone had their moments which is important when you have a pretty good performance at the end of the day. It wasn’t classic or as clinical as we’d like but it was good off the back of a short turnaround,” – Rob Penney
8’ | PENALTY Tahs | Harrison opens our account for the night with a perfect penalty kick! (0-3)
14’ | TRY Force | Stander slides over in the corner after a clever grubber kick in behind from Kahui as the hosts take the lead (3-5)
19’ | PENALTY Tahs | Another one for Harrison as we re-claim the lead (6-5)
27’ | PENALTY Force | Prior knocks one over from close range as the Force go back in front (8-6)
32’ | PENALTY Tahs | Harro is on tonight! A third penalty for the night and we go ahead once more (8-9)
35’ | TRY Tahs | Nobby goes over in the corner! He finishes off a great build up, after some great vision from Maddocks to get the ball out wide (8-17)
44’ | TRY Tahs | We’re over again! An intercept from Maddocks sees him run untouched to the line! (8-23)
79’ | TRY Tahs | Johnson-Holmes barges over to finish things off! (8-28)