The Waratahs have gone down 34-17 to the Hurricanes at Sky Stadium in Wellington.
Waratahs Head Coach Darren Coleman made several team changes ahead of the clash, with teenage star Max Jorgensen named at fullback and Ben Donaldson at his preferred position of flyhalf.
Wallaby duo Ned Hanigan and Harry Johnson-Holmes made welcome returns to the starting side, bringing a wealth of experience and energy to the team, especially in the first half.
The Waratahs started strongly and traded the lead with the Hurricanes in the opening half before poor handling and a miss firing lineout allowed the Hurricanes to score three unanswered tries and take a stranglehold over the game.
Jordie Barrett scored the opening points of the match through a penalty goal before Nemani Nadolo grabbed his first try in a sky-blue jersey, regathering a Julian Savea fumble off the restart to dive over in the corner.
The Hurricanes re-took the lead through scrumhalf Cameron Roigard, but it didn’t last long as Max Jorgensen grabbed his fourth try of the season and became the first Waratahs player to score a try in each of their first three Super Rugby matches.
Kini Naholo grabbed his first try of the night, followed up with a sideline conversion from Jordie Barrett for the 17-12 half-time lead.
Roigard and Naholo took advantage of Waratahs mistakes to both complete their doubles, before Dane Coles finished off a rolling maul for his try and a 34-12 lead.
Langi Gleeson picked off a Hurricanes attacking raid to race away 60 metres and score to deny denied the home side a winning bonus point and leave the scores 34-17 at full-time.
Waratahs Captain Jake Gordon was disappointed with his team’s second half showing.
“I thought the effort in the first half was right up there, we probably weren’t clinical enough around our exits which was disappointing and in the second half much of the same,” Gordon said.
“Our execution was a little bit off and I think we’re just searching for that 80-minute performance at the moment, we’re showing glimpses of good footy, just not enough.
“We need to focus on ourselves here, individuals, myself included need to take more ownership especially around the technical side of the game, but we have good enough players in this group to turn it around.”
Despite the result it was a special night for NSW Waratahs Academy graduate Mosese Tuipulotu who made his Super Rugby debut off the bench when he replaced Lalakai Foketi at half-time.
The Waratahs now turn their attention to their round five clash against competition heavyweights the Chiefs on Friday 24 March at Allianz Stadium.
TRIES: Roigard 2, Naholo 2, Coles
CONS: Barrett 3/5
PENS: Barrett 1/1
TRIES: Nadolo, Jorgensen, Gleeson
CONS: Donaldson 1/3
HURRICANES (1-15): Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Devan Flanders, Du’Plessis KirifI, Ardie Savea (c), Cameron Roigard, Brett Cameron, Kini Naholo, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea, Josh Moorby
RESERVES: Dane Coles, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Pasilio Tosi, Dominic Bird, Braydon Iose, Jamie Booth, Aidan Morgan, Bailyn Sullivan
WARATAHS (1-15): Tom Lambert, Mahe Vailanu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Ned Hanigan, Taleni Seu, Charlie Gamble, Michael Hooper, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, Nemani Nadolo, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen
RESERVES: Tolu Latu, Sateki Latu, Dan Botha, Lachie Swinton, Will Harris, Harrison Goddard, Tane Edmed, Mosese Tuipulotu
Referee: Brendon Pickerill Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Marcus Playle