Waratahs top Oz conference
Sydney - Former Australia captain Rocky Elsom
made his long-awaited return to the Waratahs side in a
30-21 home win over the Rebels on Saturday.
off the bench in the 65th minute to make his first appearance for the
Waratahs in his second spell after missing the start of the season with a
However, the powerful flanker's appearance
came as the Waratahs fell into defensive mode to protect a lead, a
common fault this year, as they squandered a 30-7 advantage to make it a
nervous last few minutes as the Rebels sniffed an unlikely win. The
home side clung on to record their fourth win from eight games this year
and move top of the Australian Conference.
"We started very
well and strung a few good phases together but I think in that second
half we let it get away from us, too many penalties again," Waratahs
captain Benn Robinson said in a pitchside interview.
Waratahs were quick out of the blocks and opened the scoring with a try
after 26 seconds. Having recovered their kickoff, they progressed
forward and a neat handling move involving several backs and forwards
set fullback Bernard Foley clear to cross the line
Brendan McKibbin converted and added another three penalties in the
first half as the Waratahs bossed the game against a Rebels side who
were guilty of numerous handling errors.
The Rebels did show
some positive signs in the first period and they came up with a
23rd-minute try when hooker Ged Robinson completed the easy job of
touching down after his forwards had caught a lineout and driven over
Wallaby utility back James O'Connor kicked the tricky
conversion from the touchline as the Rebels went in 16-7 down at
The Rebels were again slow to start the second period
and Waratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau scored a clever try in the corner
in the 47th minute after exchanging close-range passes with number eight
Wycliff Palu off a lineout for the home side.
Another try came
10 minutes later after a period of heavy Waratahs pressure with centre
Rob Horne crashing over after 13 phases. Horne was sent to the sin bin
shortly after for a clumsy spear tackle.
The Rebels exploited
the space created by Horne's absence to score their second try through
replacement Tim Davidson, which fullback Kurtley Beale converted after
taking over the kicking when O'Connor was forced from the field with
Beale then sucked in two defenders before feeding a pass
to winger Lachlan Mitchell to cross for the Rebels' third try with six
minutes left but that was as close as the visitors would get as they
slumped to their sixth loss in eight games this year.
"It was a
very slow start from us, but we seemed to pick it up towards the end of
the first and then went to sleep at the start of the second," Rebels
captain Gareth Delve bemoaned.Beale, Julian Huxley.