The NSW Waratahs have skirted an off-field scandal to extend the Super Rugby Club’s interstate dominance over the Queensland Reds to 11 matches.
NSW kept their finals hopes alive thanks to the 40-32 win at Suncorp Stadium but is certain to face additional scrutiny after an incident involving Tolu Latu.
Many of the 12236 spectators would have been unaware of the unfolding controversy surrounding the Waratahs, who selected Latu on the reserves bench despite the hooker being the subject of an investigation from Rugby Australia’s Integrity Unit.
Cleared to play pending the investigation, Latu was injected late in the second half of an atypically freewheeling interstate battle.
The contest was fiercely contested, but this was no dour interstate slog. With 25 minutes remaining, each side scored four tries as the Waratahs held a one-point lead.
Queensland scored five tries to four and were denied another two by the Television Match Official, with Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley proving the difference with an eight from nine goalkicking performance.
Reds debutant Matt McGahan outshone opposite number Kurtley Beale with a confident showcase of skills in the first half.
Almost three years since he left the Blues, Queensland’s new fullback caught a soaring Beale bomb and showed lightning-fast hands to send winger Sefa Naivalu across for a try.
Man of the match: Reds flyhalf Bryce Hegarty was the standout performance for his team. While for the Waratahs Kurtley Beale with his illusive runs and great chip kicks was influential for his team and therefore gets our nod.
Tries: Blyth, Campbell, Naivalu, Hegarty 2, Mafi
Tries: Wells 2, Foley, Newsome
Cons: Foley 4
Pens: Foley 5
Reds: 15 Matt McGahan, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi (captain), 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Angus Scott-Young, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Seb Wileman
Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Cameron Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Will Miller, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Curtis Rona.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Damon Murphy (Australia)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)