The Waratahs hammered the Sunwolves 57-12 on Saturday in Mark Hammett’s final game as coach in Japan and the Tokyo team’s last home game of the season.
Playing the same dazzling 15-man rugby that saw it put the Chiefs to the sword before the June test break, Daryl Gibson’s side showed a packed Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground that it is still very much in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs.
“We had a good start and put them under pressure early on but our defense just faltered a wee bit,” said Hammett. “But they are a world-class side that put 45 points on the Chiefs, who beat the Crusaders, so we knew we were up against a strong side.”
The talk before the game had been that the sweltering heat — it was 35 C pitchside — would be an advantage to the hosts.
But it was the visitors who got better and stronger the longer the game went on.
“We are very pleased to go home with a bonus-point win, which was our objective,” Gibson said. “At times we were a little rusty as expected after the break, but I was pleased that by the end of the game we got some flow and scored some excellent tries.”
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said preseason training in the Sydney summer had helped his team prepare for the conditions.
“We knew how to adapt and in the second half put in an outstanding performance,” the Wallabies flanker said.
While the four tries the Sunwolves conceded in the first half were more down to poor tackling and some questionable game management, particularly at the restarts, the second half saw the Waratahs pay some superb rugby with offloads and support lines of the highest order.
Two penalties from Yu Tamura and one monster kick from Riaan Viljoen had seen the Sunwolves lead briefly.
But the Waratahs hit back with Jack Dempsey, Israel Folau and Andrew Kelaaway, who had an outstanding game at fullback, adding to Matt Lucas’ earlier five-pointer as the visitors went into the break leading 26-12, Tamura adding a third penalty and former Ricoh Black Rams flyhalf Bernard Foley kicking three conversions.