The NSW Waratahs have scored a dour 21-6 Super Rugby win over the lowly Cheetahs to end a three-game losing streak in Sydney.
Bernard Foley marked his record-equalling 59th game as NSW five-eighth with a 16-point haul from a try, conversion and three penalty goals as the Waratahs secured three successive wins for the first time in 2016.
Winger Reece Robinson collected NSW’s other try, but the Tahs will lament being unable to clinch an all-important bonus point that would have sent the 2014 champions top of the Australian conference.
Robinson botched a golden opportunity in the 68th minute when he over-ran Kurtley Beale’s pinpoint grubber kick into the Cheetahs’ in-goal, while star centre Israel Folau crossed after the siren only for the try to be disallowed because of a forward pass in the lead-up.
But with a game in hand over the conference-leading Brumbies, who travel to Melbourne to face the Rebels on Friday night in a pivotal derby, the Waratahs retain control of their finals fate.
They will be sweating on some positive news on the injury front, though, after power forward Will Skelton joined the Waratahs’ growing casualty ward.
The giant lock lasted just 36 minutes before succumbing to a shoulder injury and will have scans to determine if he joins fellow forwards Jack Dempsey, Jed Holloway and Benn Robinson on the sidelines ahead of next Saturday’s hosting of the Bulls at Allianz Stadium.
The Cheetahs had won their past encounters with the Waratahs in Sydney and, despite tasting victory just twice this campaign, the South Africans again proved a tough nut to crack.
“It was a really hard game,” said Waratahs captain Michael Hooper.
“But we shut them out with no tries against us, a first for the season, and three (wins) in a row.
“Really happy about that.”