Match Report - Waratahs overcome physical Drua in bonus point win

Sat, Mar 4, 2023, 10:45 AM
Waratahs Media
by Waratahs Media
The Fijian Drua and Waratahs faced off at AAMI Park

The Waratahs have bounced back with a 46-17 win over the Fijian Drua in the headline match of Super Round in Melbourne.

In a bruising encounter at AAMI Park, the Waratahs survived an early scare, with handling errors and ill-discipline combined with brutal defence form the Drua, leaving the team on the back foot in the opening 45 minutes.

A second half try blitz secured the win and a crucial bonus point for the Waratahs.

Langi Gleeson, the player of the match and dominant from start to finish, got the Waratahs on the front foot with some strong carries and bone rattling defence, allowing his team to dominate territory early.

David Porecki grabbed the first try of the night, picking and driving from close range after a disciplined multi-phase build-up and strong carry from Lalakai Foketi.

Ill discipline and poor handling from the Waratahs allowed the Drua to get a foothold in the game, eventually taking a 10-7 lead through a Caleb Muntz penalty goal and a Joseva Tamani pick and drive try.

Tane Edmed slotted a late penalty goal to leave the scores locked at 10-10 at the break.

The Drua struck early in the second half with skipper Tevita Ikanivere peeling off a rolling maul to re-take the lead.

That would be the final points of the night for the Fijian side as the Waratahs kicked into gear, scoring 36 unanswered points with tries to Donaldson, Gleeson, Edmed, Jorgensen and Nawaqanitawase.

Michael Hooper jump started the Waratahs first try of the half, running a great line to break the through the defence and find Langi Gleeson who put Ben Donaldson away in the corner for his first Super Rugby try.

Langi Gleeson then grabbed his own first Super Rugby try, burrowing through from close range.

Tane Edmed was the beneficiary from a Jed Holloway lineout steal on the Drua’s 5m line, with the Waratahs showing patience and skill through multiple phases for the flyhalf to slip through two back peddling defenders.

Tane Edmed then turned try provider, putting Max Jorgensen in for his third try in two games, with a simple draw and pass down the blindside off an attacking 20 metre scrum.

Nawaqanitawase capped off the win with the final try of the night making the most of a Ben Donaldson cross field kick.

Donaldson kicked a late penalty after the siren to leave the scores 46-17 at full-time.

Waratahs Captain Jake Gordon said: “It was a little bit like last week, it definitely had a real feel around the breakdown, they put a lot of heat in that area much like the Brumbies."

“But what we did in the second half, we got cleaner ball, we got our forwards tipping at the line, we wanted to play some rugby I guess to try to replicate like last year.

“I guess it was pleasing but we definitely have a bit to work on from that first half.

“When we do hold the ball, we’re clinical but you see when we have loose possession and we’re not getting numbers to the breakdown we can really get hurt and that was one of our focus points for the week.”

Waratahs Head Coach Darren Coleman said "I'm definitely happy. I thought half-time was a pivotal moment in our season, we were in a real fight there, confidence was being tested, a few individuals had to step up and i was so proud of how they stuck in it."

"We ground them down, we stayed patient with our game plan, and we got over the top of them at the end.

"We spoke all year last year about wanting to be Tah tough and i thought we were that tonight. That's got to be in our blueprint and i think that this competition is so hard you're never going to have the game in the bag with 20 to go.

"We stayed in the fight which is great."

It was a special night for NSW Waratahs Academy graduates Ben Dowling and Dan Botha who both made their Super Rugby debuts, while Harrison Goddard earned his first cap for the team and Tolu Latu played his first match for the Waratahs since 2019.

The Waratahs now turn their attention to their round three match against the Melbourne Rebels, next Friday 10 March at AAMI Park.


TRIES: Porecki, Hooper, Gleeson, Edmed, Jorgensen, Nawaqanitawase

CONS: Edmed 5/5, Donaldson 0/1

PENS: Edmed 1/2, Donaldson 1/1


TRIES: Tamani, Ikanivere

CONS: Muntz 2/2

PENS: Muntz 1/2

DRUA (1-15): Jone Tiko, Tevita Ikanivere (c), Samuela Tawake, Isoa Nasilasila, Leone Rotuisolia, Joseva Tamani, Kitione Salawa, Te Ahiwararu Cirikidaveta, Frank Lomani, Caleb Muntz, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

RESERVES: Zuriel Togiatama, Livai Natave, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, Elia Canakaivata, Peni Matawalu, Teti Tela, Taniela Rakuro

WARATAHS (1-15): Tom Lambert, Dave Porecki, Archer Holz, Jed Holloway, Hugh Sinclair, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Max Jorgensen, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Ben Donaldson

RESERVES: Tolu Latu, Te Tera Faulkner, Dan Botha, Taleni Seu, Will Harris, Charlie Gamble, Harrison Goddard, Ben Dowling

Referee: Jordan Way Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Angus Mabey