Cape Town - Defending Super Rugby champions, the Waratahs, fought off a determined Melbourne Rebels challenge to win their first game of the Super Rugby season 38-28 in Melbourne on Friday.
AS IT HAPPENED: Rebels v Waratahs
Both teams scored four tries each for bonus points, but it was the pressure kicking of fly-half Bernard Foley that got the Waratahs home in a tight contest.
It was a much improved performance by the Waratahs after a week of soul searching following their losing performance at home to the Western Force in last weekend's season opener.
Wallaby Kurtley Beale was a star performer for the Waratahs, scoring a try off a Bernard Foley break and setting up a try for Stephen Hoiles with a skilful chip kick and regather.
The Rebels, who rocked the Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend, were on course to beat both last season's finalists when they drew level at 28-28 with 14 minutes after a try to replacement winger Sefenaia Naivalu.
But Foley broke through two tackles and sent Beale racing over for the clinching converted try with seven minutes left and then kicked a 78th-minute penalty to ensure victory.
Foley finished with 15 points from three conversions and three penalties.
"We were disappointing in the physicality area last week so tonight that was a big focus for us," Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis said.
"The most pleasing thing for us is that we made a lot of errors, but we scrambled well and stuck to our game plan.
"Our focus is holding on to the ball and just being patient and there were a couple of loose turnovers, but on the back of that we did have some good phases and scored some good tries," he said.
Powerful Fijian winger Taqele Naiyaravoro scored two tries, but he blotted his performance when he left the Waratahs a man down at a crucial time for intentionally knocking the ball over his own in-goal area and he was sent to the sin bin.
While Naiyaravoro was off the field, the Rebels drew level and the Waratahs had to work overtime to keep them out with the home crowd cheering their team on.
"That was a tough game, we knew it was going to be and credit to the ‘Tahs, they hung in and really put it on us at the back end," said skipper Scott Higginbotham, who scored the Rebels' opening try.
"Coming up against a big forward pack like the ‘Tahs you have to make your tackles and there were a few we missed."
In next weekend's Round 3 action, the Waratahs have a bye, while the Rebels welcome the Brumbies to Melbourne on Saturday, February 28.
Tries: Stephen Hoiles, Tagele Naiyaravoro (2), Kurtley Beale
Conversions: Bernard Foley (3)
Penalties: Foley (3), Beale
Tries: Scott Higginbotham, Lopeti Timani, Luke Burgess, Sefenaia Naivalu
Conversions: Mike Harris (4)
15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith Substitutes: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu
15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jaques Potgieter, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes (from): 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Stephen Hoiles, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Pat McCutcheon, 25 Peter Betham