Tahs impress in trial win over the Reds

Murray Wenzel |

The NSW Waratahs showed they’ll be a tougher Super Rugby Pacific prospect, while there was a Jordan Petaia sighting at fullback for the Queensland Reds in their trial game in Roma.

The Waratahs leaked points in a historic, winless 2021 season but showed off some bruising, organised defence in a 21-14 win on Saturday night a week out from their season opener against Fijian Drua.

Izaia Perese sent fellow Wallabies backline contender Filipo Daugunu scrambling backwards with a huge hit to set the tone as Australian coach Dave Rennie watched on.

Petaia came on in the second half at fullback, moving Jock Campbell into five-eighth to replace Wallabies No.10 James O’Connor.

The move comes after calls for the prodigious backline talent to spend time in the No.15, with an eye to the 2023 World Cup.

Former Wales centre Jamie Roberts’ first outing for the Waratahs was shortlived, the British and Irish Lions star groggy as he limped off ahead of halftime.

Former rugby sevens talent Dylan Pietsch was powerful on the wing for the Waratahs, while Lachie Swinton dominated the middle.

Waratahs five-eighth Ben Donaldson was sharp early, scoring off a neat flick pass from fullback Alex Newsome, who had crossed for the game’s first try.

The Reds were sloppy and the penalties piled up, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Dane Zander’s yellow cards leaving the Reds two men short for almost 10 minutes late in the first half.

That almost seemed to wake them up though, the hosts not conceding a point while either man was sidelined.

Wilson scored to begin the half, before NSW’s replacement No.10 Tane Edmed restored the 14-point buffer.

Young Queensland halfback Spencer Jeans then had the ball knocked out of his hands as he streaked over the line.

He made up for that blooper soon after, darting over to make it 21-14 with 10 minutes to play.

Queensland had their chances in the final minutes but twice the Waratahs turned the ball over close to their line to seal the win.  

A city-wide blackout 25 minutes before kick-off almost cancelled the game, with power returning just as officials were considering pulling the pin on the 2,000-plus strong crowd.