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Waratahs beat Rebels 41-19 in Super Rugby

May 23, 2014

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Israel Folau equaled the franchise record with his 10th try of the season as the New South Wales Waratahs beat the Melbourne Rebels 41-19 in Super Rugby on Friday to top the Australian conference.

Folau touched down for the first time in three matches to equal Peter Hewat’s season record for the Waratahs, who scored six tries to one, enlarging their tally to 16 tries from their last three matches, and rose into second place on the overall ladder.

The Rebels, bogged in 11th place near the end of a season in which they played well above that standing, stayed close to the Waratahs for three quarters of the match, closing to 24-19 with a 59th-minute try to Telusa Veainu.

They were eventually swamped by second-half tries to Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Brendan McKibbin and Folau.

Weight of possession eventually overwhelmed the Rebels. They battled against that tide in the first half, even seizing the lead at 9-8 after Rob Horne scored the opening try for the Waratahs.

Horne, transformed from center to a regular on the wing this season and free of the injuries that have hampered his international career, scored a superb try in the 11th minute to give the Waratahs an early advantage. Jason Woodward kicked three penalties to put the Rebels ahead against the run of play, as the Waratahs struggled with inaccurate goalkicking.

But New South Wales, which was beaten 24-22 in Melbourne in this round last season, quickly recovered the lead with a Bernard Foley penaly, and scored a try through center Adam Ashley-Cooper to take a 16-9 lead to the break.

The Rebels managed to cut into that lead with Woodward’s fourth penalty in the 45th, even when they were reduced to 14 men by the sin-binning of hooker Pat Leafa.

Hooper’s try in the 54th increased the lead, but the Rebels rallied again with an 80-meter intercept try to winger Veainu to make a further, despairing claim to save the match.

They finally buckled under the weight of the Waratahs’ territory and possession — they had only 32 percent of the ball throughout the match — and their defense yielded to allow late tries to Beale, Folau and McKibbin.

With a win and a four-try bonus point, the Waratahs moved to second place overall in the championship, and to first place in Australia, overtaking the ACT Brumbies. They started the round a point behind the Brumbies but moved four points ahead of ACT, which was to play South Africa’s Bulls in Pretoria late Friday.

“We controlled possession well,” Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said. “Probably our discipline and our goalkicking let us down a bit but to come away from Melbourne with a bonus point is a really good effort.

“Last year, we lost down here so we knew it was going to be tough. At halftime they were still in it, so we knew we were going to have to keep working in that second half and I was really pleased with that effort.”

Rebels captain Scott Higinbotham said the game got away from his team in the second half.

“We did so well in the first half and then when you get a sin-bin right at the end of the first half, leading into the second half it all started from there,” he said. “Then penalties in the second half really killed us.

“The enthusiasm was there and the gameplan was there, it was just bad execution.”

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New South Wales 41 (Rob Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Brendan McKibbin tries; Bernard Foley conversion, 3 penalties), Melbourne 19 (Telusa Veainu try; Jason Woodward conversion, 4 penalties). HT: 16-9.

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