NSW Waratahs have kept pace with the Brumbies at the top of Super Rugby’s Australian conference with a nine-try 57-12 demolition of Japan’s Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.
The bonus-point win brought NSW level on points with the Brumbies, who also picked up the full five points with victory over Queensland on Friday night and remain top by virtue of having nine wins to the Waratahs’ eight.
Halfback Matt Lucas and winger Reece Robinson both bagged a two tries for NSW, who were scrappy early but blossomed as the match progressed.
Robinson’s double came in the space of three minutes early in the second half to put the Tahs out of sight after they took a 26-12 lead into the break.
An energetic Sunwolves enjoyed an early edge in possession and capitalised on some poor discipline by the Tahs to lead 9-7.
One of their three penalties was a massive 57m effort from South African fullback Riaan Viljoen.
However, the Tahs’ superior execution, ability to offload and good support play proved decisive.
Outside centre Israel Folau, Lucas and five-eighth Bernard Foley manufactured plenty of opportunities on the back of strong forward play, with the Sunwolves guilty of falling off too many one-on-one tackles.
Converted tries to Lucas and flanker Jack Dempsey gave the Waratahs a 14-9 advantage and they played with more confidence and precision as the match progressed.
Folau, who produced another classy effort in his new role and his successor at fullback Andrew Kellaway, each beat several defenders to score tries before the break.
Robinson’s two five-pointers were followed by tries to Lucas, reserve back Matt Carraro and winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who was sin-binned in the first half for taking out a kick-chaser.