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Waratahs shock Highlanders

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The Waratahs shocked the Highlanders 41-12, ending a 40-game unbeaten streak by New Zealand opposition over Australian sides, at Allianz Park, Sydney.

Taqele Naiyaravoro and Israel Folau both scored a brace in the six-try to two, rout.

It was a glorious night for records and losing runs to be broken after a fine performance by New South Wales.

The Waratahs victory ended 722 days of misery for Australian teams in the trans-Tasman rivalry, going back to May 2016.

Folau’s second score took the mercurial fullback to 50 Super Rugby tries in 83 games; his seventh in the last six games.

He is the third fastest to the landmark, behind Joe Roff and Christian Cullen, who achieved the record in 67 and 75 matches respectively.

Naiyaravolo became the first Waratahs player to score four doubles in a season as the Sydney men, who in victory, also ended their four-match losing streak to the Otago side.

The match turned in the 19th-minute when Highlanders winger Tevita Nabura was shown a red card for a dangerous challenge on Cam Clark after he appeared to kick the winger in the face.

Lima Sopoaga became the 15th player in the premier tournament to pass 850 points, but it was as good as it would get for him and his team.

Aaron Smith was yellow-carded two minutes’ later for a deliberate knock-down with the score at 8-0.

The Tahs took advantage of their numerical supremacy and slowly strangled the Highlanders with patient build-up play and superb finishing.

Foley, who passed 850 Super Rugby points, opened the scoring with an early penalty before Niayaravolo dotted down, beating Waisake Naholo and Aaron Smith to score the games first try.

Turning point.

Nabura was sent off after he caught Clark in the face with a stray boot.

Smith followed soon afterwards for cynical play when he stopped a linebreak by deliberately knocking the ball away.

With a two-man advantage, the home side took advantage when Naiyaravolo beat Naholo’s tackle and performed an expert finish in the corner after evading Rob Thompson and Patelesio Tomkinson.

The Highlanders did well to keep the score down, only giving up seven points while Aaron Smith was off the park.

The Waratahs increased the tempo and intensity after the interval.

They started the second-half with a try from Folau after being camped inside the Landers 22.

The visitors hit back immediately through Elliot Dixon.

Ben Smith put in a wonderful cross-kick to an unmarked Dixon, who caught the ball a la Ricky Ponting and was over for the score.

The home crowd could be forgiven for being a little nervy because they saw their team throw away a 29-nil lead against the Crusaders, last weekend.

They need not have worried because Izzy Folau crossed for his second in the 55th-minute to restore his side’s 22-point lead.

The try came after a wonderful sweeping move by the hosts.

It came from Sekope Kepu’s over-the-shoulder offload to Kurtley Beale, who looped to Foley before putting the flyer away.

The visitors would not give in.

Ash Dixon flopped over the whitewash soon afterwards from a powerful rolling maul by the Otago pack.

The Tahs did not wilt; they scored twice in a couple of minutes to put the game to bed.

Instead, they turned up the intensity and went through the phases, controlling territory and possession for long periods.

Nick Phipps lost the ball in the act of grounding before Lalakai Foketi came off the bench to seal the deal.

Curtis Rona capped off a fine display when he scored in the corner after some great work by Phipps.

The halfback drew two defenders and set up the score with an offload to Foketi.

The substitute then sent the Rona away for the try which officially ended the Kiwi hoodoo over the Aussies. Phew!

Waratahs versus Highlanders video highlights.

Final score: Waratahs 41 (15) Highlanders 12 (0)

Scorers

Waratahs
Tries – Naiyaravoro (2), Folau (2), Foketi, Rona
Pen – Foley
Con – Foley (4)
Drop –
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries – E. Dixon, A. Dixon
Pen –
Con – Sopoaga
Drop –
Cards – Nabura (Red, 19′), A. Smith (Yellow, 21′)

Match Officials
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Will Houston
Assistant Ref 2: Graham Cooper
TMO: George Ayoub

Teams

Waratahs

15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (Captain), 6 Will Miller, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.

Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Highlanders

15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Nabura, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Tevita Li.

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