Waratahs 31-26 Melbourne Rebels, Super Rugby
Waratahs produce second-half comeback
ESPN Staff
March 1, 2013
Date/Time: Mar 1, 2013, 19:20 local, 08:20 GMT
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
New South Wales Waratahs 31 - 26 Melbourne Rebels
Half-time: 6 - 16
Tries: Foley, Hooper, Ryan
Cons: McKibbin 2
Pens: McKibbin 4
Tries: Beale, Robinson
Cons: O'Connor 2
Pens: O'Connor 4
Waratahs dominate second half to defeat Rebels.

New South Wales have recorded their first win of the Super Rugby season, defeating Melbourne Rebels 31-26 at Allianz Stadium to maintain their unbeaten record against their southern rivals.

The fixture was a real arm wrestle in heavy conditions after two days of constant torrential rain, and it was noticeable more for two yellow cards than for any great rugby, but the Waratahs will not care; they are off the mark, after losing their opening fixture, to Queensland Reds, despite the Rebels, perhaps, looking the most likely winners for the opening 55 minutes.

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said he was "really pleased with the second half".

"We kept playing, which was probably a bit different to last week," Dennis said. "We kept throwing the ball about, and we got three good tries. It's a good win."

Dennis said that improved discipline was the key to the Waratahs' improvement.

"We let them in the game too easy [in the first half]," he said. "We played a lot of football in our own half."

The Rebels seemed to have the upper hand after referee Ryan Hoffman had sent Waratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau to the sin-bin in the 25th minute, for not clearing the ruck, reaping immediate advantage on the scoreline with a try from his counterpart, Ged Robinson, after they had worked a short-side lineout move close to the Tahs' line.

James O'Connor converted the try to go with three penalty goals against two penalties Brendan McKibbin, to lead 16-6 at half-time, but the Waratahs were clearly the better team in the second stanza.

The Waratahs' David Dennis talks to team-mates during the match against Melbourne Rebels, New South Wales Waratahs v Melbourne Rebels, Allianz Stadium, Stadium, March 1, 2013
Dave Dennis was happy with the second-half effort, saying "we stuck at it" © Getty Images

The Waratahs, whose first-half performance was lethargic, illustrated by ill-discipline at the breakdown and a string of errors including kick-offs that either failed to go 10 metres or cleared the touchline on the full, stepped up in the second stanza after being instructed by coach Michael Cheika to increase the pace.

But Mr Hoffman was central to the key moment of the second half, as in the first, when he flashed the yellow card to Rebels prop Laurie Weekes, in the 49th minute, for hands in the ruck.

Weekes had little about which to complain, like Polota-Nau in the first half, and the Waratahs eventually gained full benefit of their numerical advantage; they landed three points through the boot of McKibbin then squared the ledger through a converted try from Bernard Foley, who scored after a fine multi-phase move involving breaks from McKibbin and Kane Douglas.

The Waratahs then claimed the lead when Michael Hooper dotted down, burrowing through defence after a solid attacking run from Israel Folau, and replacement prop Paddy Ryan iced the result with a try five minutes from full-time after O'Connor and McKibbin had shared a couple of penalty goals.

Kurtley Beale rounded out the scoring with a converted try under the posts just moments before the final whistle.

© Getty Images
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