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Folau leads Waratahs with two tries in blowout of Rebels

The Canadian Press

3/21/2014 9:24:27 AM

SYDNEY, Australia -- Fullback Israel Folau scored a double, lifting his tally of tries for the season to eight in four matches, as the New South Wales Waratahs sliced apart the Melbourne Rebels 32-8 in Super Rugby on Friday.

Folau's second-half tries clinched the Waratahs' third bonus-point win.

The Waratahs took an 11-8 lead to halftime after an indecisive first spell but tries to Folau and Peter Betham in the first eight minutes of the second half gave them breathing space. Folau then earned the bonus point with his second try seven minutes from fulltime.

Folau's tries again came from his developing partnership with Wallabies inside centre Kurtley Beale. Beale made a line break and delivered an inside pass to Folau to set up the first try in the 48th minute, and again split the defence then slowed and held the ball up under pressure to lay on the second.

"It was a tough game to be honest," Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said. "They put a lot of pressure on us in that first half.

"Going into halftime it was a very even contest but we just talked about sticking to our game in the second half, and to come away with four tries was a very pleasing effort."

No. 8 Dennis was part of a highly effective loose forward trio with openside Michael Cooper and former Springboks flanker Jacques Potgeiter, who was hugely industrious as was lock Will Skelton. Beale gave the Waratahs the key that unlocked the Rebels' defence, which had been extremely resilient through the first half.

Winger Alofa Alofa gave the Waratahs the lead after only three minutes with a try which followed a break by Potgeiter but the Rebels hit back with a try to captain Scott Higginbotham, his 25th in Super Rugby. Bernard Foley kicked two penalties for the Waratahs and Bryce Hegarty one for the Rebels, leaving a three-point gap between the teams at the interval.

The Waratahs took the game away from Melbourne with the tries to Betham and Folau immediately after the restart. They almost had another, through Dennis, but that was denied when television replays showed a knock-on by Potgeiter in a preliminary phase.

The Rebels again resisted strongly through the middle of the second half and handling errors prevented the Waratahs scoring again until the 73rd when Folau's second try gave them the comfort of a bonus point. The Rebels remained without a win in Sydney in Super Rugby, though they competed strongly at times.

"It's disappointing," captain Higginbotham said. "They defended well. We worked hard and kept getting into their tryline area but just let ourselves down and let them off the hook."

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New South Wales Waratahs 32 (Israel Folau 2, Alofa Alofa, Peter Betham tries; Bernard Foley 3 conversions, 2 penalties), Melbourne Rebels 8 (Scott Higginbotham try; Bryce Hegarty penalty). HT: 11-8.