Sydney - Bernard Foley has kicked defending champions Waratahs back into Super Rugby's top six in a 23-11 win over the Blues in Sydney on Saturday.
Two second-half penalty goals from fly-half Foley and a late try to replacement winger Peter Betham saved the Waratahs' blushes in a drab victory over the last-placed Blues.
The Waratah forwards edged their New Zealand counterparts in a bruising encounter with South African Jacques Potgieter standing out five days after being fined by the Australian Rugby Union for making homophobic slurs in the Waratahs' heated derby win over the Brumbies.
Skipper Dave Dennis, who finished the game in the blood bin, and barnstorming lock Will Skelton also led the way for the home side.
There was no sign of the dour spectacle to follow when Waratahs scrum-half Nick Phipps scored under the crossbar in the eighth minute after a short pass from Kurtley Beale to Michael Hooper from a lineout win.
Hooper's last pass to Phipps looked a touch forward but the video referee cleared it and Foley's conversion made it 7-0.
Israel Folau and Beale had plenty of touches and looked sharp while the forwards were carrying and hitting with venom as the Waratahs appeared up for the contest.
Wingers Taqele Naiyaravoro and Rob Horne were denied further tries in the space of 15 minutes.
As the hosts lost their sparkle and intensity, Auckland fly-half Dan Bowden, in his first Super Rugby start in five years, landed two penalty goals to reduce the Tahs' lead to one point at the break.
The Blues briefly snatched a four-point advantage 15 minutes into the second half when powerful centre Francis Saili crashed over.
But Foley had the final say, his two penalties and the conversion of Betham's try was enough to secure NSW's fourth win from six outings.
The Blues were forced to defend for much of the match but stayed in touch with some resilient defence.
But an inspired defensive effort was ultimately of little comfort for the visitors as they fell to their sixth straight defeat of the campaign.
"That's what we've been looking for over the years -- to get the crowd into the game," Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said.
"Over the last year or two, that's been happening more and more and we enjoy it."
Blues coach John Kirwan rued having Jerome Kaino in the sin bin for the last nine minutes and Cheika agreed the visiting captain was unlucky to have been yellow-carded, saying it was a head clash with Dave Dennis.
The win pulled the Waratahs to two competition points behind Australian conference leaders the Brumbies.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (captain), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes (two to be ommitted): 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Tatafu Polota-Nau,l 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Paddy Ryan, 20 Sam Lousi, 21 Mitchell Chapman, 22 Stephen Hoiles, 23 Brendan McKibbin, 24 Jono Lance 25 Peter Betham
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi/Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Pita Ahki