When Israel Folau crossed for his second try against the Highlanders at Allianz last night, the champion Waratahs fullback hit the 50 career mark.
He now has his crosshairs zeroed in on Doug Howlett (59), Caleb Ralph (58), and Joe Roff (57), with Stirling Mortlock, Bryan Habana, and Christian Cullen locked on 56 as Super Rugby’s leading try-scorers of all time.
Folau, along with Kurtley Beale, and Bernard Foley, tore into the Highlanders for a comprehensive 41-12 victory to end the embarrassing drought of 40 successive losses by Australian franchises to New Zealand opponents, lasting 722 days.
When the big three fire the Waratahs fire, it’s as simple as that.
The knockers are saying the Highlanders were crippled by winger Tevita Nabura being red-carded for deliberately kicking opposite number Cam Clarke in the face, and two minutes later halfback Aaron Smith was binned for a deliberate knock on.
Sure they battled, as any side would with 14 men for 61 minutes, but not to the extent of a 41 points to 12 result, which was comprehensive.
Last night was how the Waratahs should play every week with up to 11 Wallabies in the starting lineup.
They were a pleasure to watch, instead of the rubbish rugby they’ve played far too often in giving away basic elements of penalties, turnovers, and missed tackles.
Last night it was just seven penalties, 15 turnovers, and 13 missed tackles, less than half the norm.
And for good measure, the Waratahs won all seven of their lineouts.
What a difference those stats made in the overall performance.
The Waratahs ran in six tries to two, covering 474 metres in the process to just 250 to dominate from the kick off and record their biggest win over the Highlanders in 23 seasons.
The Waratahs now lead the Australian Conference by six points as the only team in the black for and against, with plus 65.
The Rebels are minus 33, the Reds minus 110, the Brumbies minus 65, and the Sunwolves minus 155.
It’s a big if, but if the Waratahs continue to play exciting and disciplined rugby like last night, they will be a genuine threat come finals time.
And that never appeared possible earlier in the season.