The NSW Waratahs controlled possession in the opening ten minutes of the first half, winning two kickable penalties and opening a 6-0 lead through Berrick’s boot.
Lots of niggle including some punches between Quade and Berrick , a spear tackle on Tom Carter and a TPN juggernaut throwing his 113kg into anything Red that moved.
The first try came on the back of some great offloading from the Tahs and finished with Drew Mitchell scoring in the corner. Following an unsuccessful kick at poles the score was 11-0 after 10 minutes.
The Tahs continued to apply pressure in the Reds half of the field, moving through their phases until Berrick found the corner with a well placed kick. Dean Mumm was penalised at the ensuing ineout for interfering with James Horwill in the air, leading to harsh words from Bryce Lawrence.
20 minutes into the match the Reds finally enjoyed some quality possession, winning a penalty after a massive defensive hit by TPN which allowed Quade to set up a lineout 2 metres from the Tahs line. The Tahs were fortunate to win a turnover while defending their line, with the relieving kick getting them out of trouble.
The Reds won another penalty 10m into the Tahs half, this time opting to open their ledger with Quade slotting it with his trademark “throwing a cast net” kicking style.
After the restart the Tahs were sensational in keeping the ball alive, only to drop it within metres of the Reds line. The pressure continued to build with Will Chambers enjoying liberal interpretations of the offside law, and after some kicking we were back at halfway for the first scrum of the match
The Reds continue to enjoy set piece parity by winning their feed from a stable platform, however James Horwill did what appeared to be some serious damage to his left ankle. After 5 minutes with his trainer Big Kev was taken from the field, but not before the Tahs enjoyed several phases of running at the 14 standing Reds.
A Reds prop saved the day by turning over the Tahs ball right on their try line, and a clearance kick set up a Tahs lineout on the 22. By this time Kev had been replaced with Leroy Houston, but it would seem no-one told Leroy he was marking number 6 as a short lineout to the unmarked Dave Dennis allowed the big lock to smash through the full back and score.
TPN continued to cause mayhem, combining with the 123kg Kane Douglas and smashing Rod Davies between the two of them in a crunching tackle.
The Reds applied some pressure late in the first half, though still struggled to break a Tahs line that to my eye has no weak links defensively.
A big collision between Drew Mitchell and Rod Davies had both players heading to the blood bin, Rod Davies coming off the head clash considerably worse, leaving the filed with his face held in a red towel.
As the half time siren sounded the Reds won a penalty which Quade duly slotting it to go in for oranges at 16-6.
Half Time Score: Waratahs 16 (Tries: Drew Mitchell, David Dennis, Conversions: Barnes 0/2, Penalties: Barnes: 2/4)
Reds 6 (Penalties: Quade 2/2)
The second half started with Ben Lucas on for Peter Hynes, Chris Alcock for Phil Waugh, and Aidin Toua for Rod Davies. The waratahs won a penalty after the early exchanges, however Berrick missed the conversion.
The Tahs won their feed on a scrum at the Reds’ 22m line and patiently acquired territory through phases up to the Reds line. The Reds committed numbers to the breakdown opening an overlap on the left wing. The ball was shifted wide to Lachie turner who scored in the corner. Kurtley then took over the kicking, slotting his first conversion from the sideline, off the post.
The Reds won a succession of penalties a the breakdown in the Tahs end of the field, kicking these to the corner for lineouts as 3 points wouldn’t make a big difference to their 17 point deficit.
After applying some pressure the Reds forgot how to hold the ball, a succession of knock-ons relieving the pressure they had built. Super sub Benn Robinson came on for Sekope kepu at Loosehead, and the Tahs’ scrum gained the set piece ascendancy.
The Reds improved in the next period, breaking the advantage line through a Genia / Cooper combination that finally started to click.
At the 60 minute mark the physicality of the match started to take its toll, with Hickey using the bench to bring on Damian Fitzpatrick for TPN and Daniel Halangahu for Berick Barnes.
Some great individual skill from Ben Lucas was the most threatening the Reds had looked all match, breaking right up the middle of the field. Unfortunately for Queensland fans the pass to Will Chamber went into touch.
Aidin Toua attempted to clear his line but was changed down by Drew Mitchell. Toua was fortunate to re-gather, however was pressured immediately by Mitchell and Beale. The Tahs won a scrum just out from the Reds’ line, with Benn Robinson crashing over a few phases later. Kurtley converted, taking the score out to 30-6 .
Further changes saw Sitaleki Timani on for David Dennis, James Hanson for Saia Fainga’a Ryan Cross for Tom Carter, and Brendan McKibbon for Luke Burgess with 9 minutes to play.
The Reds had further opportunities, an infield kick hitting the corner post to go out.Quade pulled out the kick pass to Aidin Toua who had a good shot at making the line
A break through Lachie Turner the middle of the field was looking great until Ryan Cross continued his trial form and dropped the ball cold. Twice.
The game degenerated into a kick fest, and while the Reds had more promising raids on the Tahs line, the wall of sky blue proved impenetrable, well at least long enough for the Reds to drop it.
For the Waratahs, this game had it all. A bonus point victory against the old enemy. Lets just hope Link has a bloody big drawing board.
Waratahs 30 (Tries: Drew , Dennis, Turner, Robinson) def Reds 6
MOTM: Tatafu Polota-Nau