Men in blue continue their stellar start to the Super 15 season.
Israel Folau scored a try double and Kurtley Beale ran the show as the New South Wales Waratahs claimed a 32-8 bonus-point Super 15 win over the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.
Wallaby fullback Folau has now scored eight tries in four matches in this year’s Super Rugby competition and he owed both his tries Friday to Beale’s playmaking skills.
Beale, who returned to the Waratahs this year from a stint at the Rebels, made the initial line breaks and had the athletic Folau backing up on his outside both times for tries.
The win over the Rebels lifted the Waratahs to the top of the Australian conference ahead of the ACT Brumbies’ home match with South Africa’s Western Stormers in Canberra on Saturday.
The Waratahs went ahead in the fourth minute when winger Alofa Alofa scored off a Bernard Foley pass before skipper Scott Higginbotham crashed over for the Rebels to level at 5-5.
The Rebels stuck with the home side at 8-8 before Foley kicked his second penalty for an 11-8 half-time lead.
The Waratahs opened up in the second half with winger Peter Betham scoring off a Beale pass and Folau finishing off more great lead-up work from Beale for his two tries.
Melbourne have yet to beat the Waratahs in four matches in Sydney and lie at the bottom of the Australian conference with one win from their four games.
“We knew at halftime we had to be patient and if we stuck to our attacking structures and trusted that system in the end we could really deliver,” Beale said.
“Everyone is playing their role and it is making my job easier when everyone else is stepping up.”
The Waratahs leave for South Africa early Saturday and a match next weekend against Super 15 leaders Coastal Sharks in Durban.
“It will be a very big challenge. It’s always tough to go to South Africa. We just have to recover here and think about it on the plane,” Beale said.
It was a bitter defeat for captain Higginbotham, whose Rebels face the Brumbies in another Australian derby in Melbourne next week.
“They defended well and we worked hard and we kept getting into their quarter but we let ourselves down and let them off the hook,” he said.
“Our defence is good for the most part, but we tended to go to sleep and they attacked with pace and scored points.”