New South Wales Waratahs defeated the Sunwolves 50-29 in a try-fest on Saturday as the home team fell well short in its latest bid for a first Super Rugby win this season.
On a chilly afternoon, the Sunwolves (0-6) were let down by errors all over the park as they failed to keep pace with the Waratahs and maintained their unwanted record of never having beaten an Australian side in Super Rugby.
Despite an up-tempo game plan from Jamie Joseph’s men, the superior quality of the Australians showed as two tries from scrum half Jake Gordon gave the Waratahs a 38-17 lead following a first half that contained seven tries at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.
Four more tries followed in the second half and, despite a yellow card for captain Michael Hooper with 16 minutes remaining, the Waratahs ran out comfortable winners, closing the gap on the conference leading Melbourne Rebels to one point.
The Sunwolves remained winless and rooted to the foot of the Australian Conference standings as poor tackling and basic handling errors undermined their early attempts to play imaginative rugby.
“We conceded 18 turnovers and any team that turns over the ball struggles to defend,” Sunwolves coach Jamie Joseph said.
“If we don’t concede turnovers, then our defensive system is OK. We don’t have a problem scoring points. It’s conceding points too easily.”
One reason for the turnovers was the ability of Hooper and fellow flanker Will Miller to get to the breakdown and pilfer the ball or force a handling error — the Sunwolves committed 15 to just five by the Waratahs.
“Our transition (from defense to attack) was fantastic, moving the ball to space, in particular Taqele (Naiyaravoro) on the wing, who was special there,” Hooper said.
A storming run from Naiyaravoro opened the door for Gordon to score his first try after just five minutes in an ominous warning for the hosts.
The Sunwolves, inspired by center Michael Little — who scored one try and made another for lock Sam Wykes — managed to stay in the game with the score 24-14 after 22 minutes, but tries from Bryce Hegarty and a second from Gordon gave the Waratahs a commanding lead at the break.
After captain Hooper’s try four minutes in the second half, it looked like the Australians might run away with it but a sustained 20-minute period of pressure from the Sunwolves led to tries from Semisi Masirewa and Kazuki Himeno.