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Folau stars as Waratahs beat Chiefs

By Darren Walton, Darren Walton is a Roar Guru

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    NSW coach Michael Cheika said throw Israel Folau to the Lions after the code-hopping star inspired the Waratahs to a gritty 25-20 win over the defending champion Chiefs in Friday night’s Super Rugby clash at Allianz Stadium.

    A try to replacement hooker John Ulugia four-and-a-half minutes from fulltime earned the Waratahs a thrilling victory after the Chiefs had threatened a spirited comeback win from 15-0 down at halftime.

    But the Tahs had man-of-the-match Folau to thank for keeping their finals hopes flickering.

    The high-profile rugby league and AFL convert was instrumental in helping the Tahs to their big halftime lead and then produced a series of trysaving plays after the break.

    In his most entertaining act, Folau soared high to reel in a pinpoint crossfield kick from five-eighth Bernard Foley to touch down two minutes before the break.

    It was his fourth try in his rookie Super season, and third in four games, but first straight from the rugby league playbook, with the Waratahs surprisingly slow to tap into the former Kangaroo’s renowned aerial skills.

    “I’m not quite sure why it’s taken us 10 weeks to work out that we can actually kick the ball over to him and he’ll jump up and catch it and score,” Cheika said.

    “Maybe it’s my dud coaching, dumb coaching, I don’t know. Maybe the situation hasn’t occurred in the game.

    “But it was smart from Bernard because we had the advantage so we had a free shot at it and he put himself in the right spot.

    “And if you watch the tape, the catchers are looking at Izzy and not looking at the ball so that’s where he’s in charge of that situation.

    “He did very well. He had a very good game … he’s adding a lot.”

    Adding so much that Cheika felt Folau was challenging Brumbies revelation Jesse Mogg for the Wallabies’ fullback spot for the series against the touring British and Irish Lions.

    “You’ll never know if he’s ready unless he plays. That’s the only way you’ll ever know,” Cheika said.

    “In fairness, the kid in Canberra is playing pretty well. But he (Folau) is making big contributions to our team – lots of assists, lots of tackles beaten and he’s starting to get his D right.

    “… We’ve got a stack of games to go before that happens and, like any player, if he keeps performing, he’ll be a shout.”

    Brendan McKibbin’s conversion of Folau’s try gave the Waratahs their 15-point buffer at the break, but the match turned two minutes into the second half when NSW lock Sitaleki Timani was yellow carded for a high tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams.

    The Chiefs immediately capitalised on their one-man advantage with replacement fullback Gareth Anscombe crossing and converting his own try five minutes later.

    A McKibbin penalty goal briefly gave the Tahs some breathing space before two replies from Anscombe nudged the Chiefs within five points of the locals.

    The titleholders appeared to have stolen the points when prop Ben Tameifuna swivelled his way over under the posts and Anscombe slotted the extras to take a 20-18 lead with the clock winding down.

    But with NSW’s season on the line, Ulugia steamed onto a short ball from Foley to score the match-winning try that vaulted the Waratahs to seventh place on the ladder.

    The only downer for the Waratahs was the loss of injury-plagued Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell to another hamstring strain and he looks in serious doubt for the team’s two-game tour of South Africa.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (46)

    • April 20th 2013 @ 5:58am
      Sage said | April 20th 2013 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      Good to see the Tahs come back for that win. I thought they were done for sure but that showed some composure and ticker. That first half was the best I’ve seen them play forever pretty much. Impressive. If they can build on that from here look out. Well done Tah’s and cheers to all you long suffering supporters. Enjoy.
      Folau in the WB’s? Lets see what happens in the next little while but he is warming to it for sure.

      • April 20th 2013 @ 7:13am
        mikeylives said | April 20th 2013 @ 7:13am | ! Report

        I think this comment says it best. As a long suffering Tahs supporter, at 75 minutes, I was convinced it would be a typical close-but-no-cigar loss.
        Credit to Dennis who played like a captain in those final minutes and also to the whole team for chancing their arm at the right times to relentlessly take it from their own 22 to score. They never looked like being stopped.

        Hooper is a man mountain.
        Foley is a Wallaby in the making for sure.

        • April 20th 2013 @ 7:30am
          eagleJack said | April 20th 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

          Yeah Dennis, just like against the Blues, took some tough carries at the death to get the team moving forward. Good on him I think it’s these types of plays that show he is a leader.

          Hooper, Palu, Douglas and AAC should all be close to making the Wallaby starting side. Great performances from each of them last night.

        • April 20th 2013 @ 10:19am
          DMac said | April 20th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          Foley’s kicking game was very poor last night. He needs to work on that before anyone considers him for wallaby selection.

          • April 20th 2013 @ 11:22am
            Stin said | April 20th 2013 @ 11:22am | ! Report

            I agree, his kicking form is down. Maybe, as Cheika sys, as they’ve been working so much at playing with ball in hand and not working on so much game management, that he hasn’t been drilling his kicking enough. Still won the game for us with that pass to Ulugia. Knowing when to play flat or not like he did there was a great sign of growing maturity.

    • April 20th 2013 @ 6:27am
      Albo said | April 20th 2013 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      Jeez I love Cheikas interviews. Direct, no BS, no mind reading or cryptic responses. Exactly what’s needed at the Tahs and its showing.

      I think anytime the Tahs have a penalty advantage close to the line they should try the cross field kick. I can’t see many challenging izzy in the air to be honest and if they rush players out wide to cover, boom… Send someone through the middle.

    • April 20th 2013 @ 6:40am
      Who Needs Melon said | April 20th 2013 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      Folau was magnificent. Barring injury he will DESERVEDLY wear gold in his first year. I’d like to be sure he’d be comfortable on the wing too now.

      Well done Tahs. That was a turning point match I think. They could easily have thought “oh well, we gave it a good shot” when the Chiefs took the lead but they didn’t. Forwards can hold their heads up high this morning, sore as they are.

    • April 20th 2013 @ 6:57am
      jutsie said | April 20th 2013 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      Izzy deserves to at least be in the 30 man squad and possibly the wallaby 22. He has improved every game and with mogg out injured has been the best aus outside back in the last month and a half.
      I didn’t rate him when he first came over but am happy to be proven wrong, hope he sticks with union for a few more years.

      • April 20th 2013 @ 9:25am
        Sage said | April 20th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        Best in the last month and a half? He’s getting better but that’s a big call. I think Speight has been better

        • April 20th 2013 @ 10:05am
          jutsie said | April 20th 2013 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          True its a tough call between speight, mogg and Izzy although I think Izzy is a bit better in d than speight

    • April 20th 2013 @ 7:08am
      eagleJack said | April 20th 2013 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      I have felt for a while that Folau will be Australia’s premier outside back by year’s end and the way he is improving that looks a near certainty. You can see the guys confidence growing every match and he is starting to trust his instincts and not worry so much about being isolated. Crazy to think he has only played around 10 games of rugby in total.

      But for me the Lions may be just a tad early for him. And definitely way too early for the 15 jersey. An inability to kick would come back to haunt him at international level. Perhaps a spot on the wing? Ultimately if he stays in the game beyond this year I think he should be moved to 13. Could be what the Wallabies have been missing.

      • April 20th 2013 @ 10:22am
        DMac said | April 20th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        I think he can kick fine distance-wise, he’s just still learning the angles. He doesn’t get much practice at the Tahs. Did he need to kick at all last night?

    • Roar Guru

      April 20th 2013 @ 7:24am
      moaman said | April 20th 2013 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Well done the ‘Tahs…thought they deserved it in the end-much as it pains me to see the Chiefs go down-again.

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