Bob Dwyer must have had this team eating fire for months. They certainly had plenty of this commodity in their bellies. They are unrecognisable as the team that last year could only fire up for the game against the young upstart Brumbies, and had the brain explosion of the year against the Hurricanes, a farce that was only almost equalled by their opposition in that same game. Instead the Waratahs were enterprising, mixing it up literally from the kick-off where Matt B. grubbered the ball at a South African forward who obligingly handed it back to the 'Tahs.
Too many errors from both sides, too many knock ons, too many lost lineouts, and a couple of penalty touch kicks not finding touch.
Waratahs' attack was good in patches, Stormers' was fairly mundane. Robbie Fleck is a bloody nightmare and is too good a player in my mind. He should be banned from playing NSW. Breyton Paulse must have been a naughty boy in training as he was not allowed to play with the ball by his teammates who had all decided to play without him. Percy put down his comb long enough to drop a ball and then put on some decent maneuvers. The Stormers tight forwards were tough but forever getting in the way of their pretty boys.
The Waratahs defence was awesome and I don't think that is too one-eyed a statement. It may struggle against better attack. It may not. It looked good though. Big tackles, bodies on the line, and from this humble one-eyed view, pretty bloody clean. In fact, I seem to recall that it was a pretty clean game from both teams.
The ref didn't seem to be able to call any close forward passes, but applied his generous nature to both sides, so I guess that's alright sort of. Better than being stop-start I guess. The ref had a good game overall, within the strictures of new laws, new laws that are growing on me fast. I didn't notice him too much so that is all that need be said I guess, apart from the fact that he needs to have the law regarding deliberate knock-down bashed into him. Waugh or Lyons, can't remember which, tapped the ball trying to grab it and was going to get it easily but was tackled without the ball... Deliberate knockdown apparently. Couple of little things like that. Minor gripes though.
Manny Edmonds was great. Ouch, that really hurts to say. After a couple of bonehead moves just to let us all know that he really was Manny Edmonds and not some highly complicated robot sent back through time to play five-eighth for the Waratahs, and made to look like Manny Edmonds, he had a great game and even played like a five-eighth. Wonders will never cease. For those of you out there that play that Fantasy Rugby thingy and didn't buy him for the $0.02 he should have been worth before the season started, you should have....
Waratahs scrum held up great under the Stormers and even managed to dish some out. Waratahs played a decidedly suspicious move near the end taking off, I think it was Rod Moore 'injured' and getting Dunning back on the field. He may have been truly injured, but it just seemed a bit convenient.. (Touching wood that he isn't badly injured, and that goes for Dunning too) Dunning of course then really got injured and we were left with uncontested scrums for 5-10 mins or so. Oops.
But before all those strange happenings, Dunning, the loose head prop, yes prop remember, took a blinder of an intercept and set off for his shot at a 60m try. He got pulled up 5m short, but it was an effort that nearly had me in tears. He should stop that sort of thing actually. Next people will always be expecting that kind of flair from we props.. Stuff that.
Waratah loosies were fantastic, Matthew Burke was his consummately professional self, and the captaincy seems to agree with him quite well. He even managed to fill in at halfback just long enough to put Manny Edmonds in a gap for the last try and bonus point!! Matty B. back in gold I say, and not filling in while some lesser fullback steals his jersey either...
Speaking of that last try, this is what I was talking about before about the 'Tahs actually being hungry this year. Being well ahead with about a minute or two to go, the 'Tahs managed to score their third try. They then realised they had 30sec to go and the likely possession and they came alive as though a bonus point was the Super 12 trophy. Result? Four tries to NSW.
The 'Tahs have a long way to go this year. I get the feeling that the NSW faithful, of which there are quite a few I admit, may be getting a visit from the variety of NSW fan that only comes out when the umbrella can be left at home next week for the match against the Bulls. If they win that as they really should (touch wood), there will be a good platform laid out for the season. I decided at the start of the season that top six would have me happy.
They have yet to truly prove themselves as serious contenders though. Both opposition teams so far have been suitably woeful, especially the Stormers. Two home game wins against opposition of questionable skill do not a champion side make. But for a NSW supporter, showing that you mean to give it a red-hot go is a bloody good start, as is two wins with bonus points in each.
I shall endeavour to not be lazy and to report the course of all of the games from the Sydney Football Stadium from now on, though they shall be a lot shorter if NSW go down. I messed up last week by missing the first 20 minutes and two tries because I was playing golf. Not my fault they moved kick-off back from 7:30 to 7:05 the mongrels... Remember I don't have Foxtel, so you only get SFS games from me. If bloody Fox cable went past my Sydney Eastern Suburbs house.......
As the infallibly witty Gordon Bray put it at the end of the delayed replay tonight (convenient for getting back from the stadium and recapping what happened), the Waratahs had a Stormer.