The Waratahs beat the Stormers 22-11 in Cape Town, with halfback Nick Phipps scoring the visitors’ single try.
NSW Waratahs sensation Kurtley Beale might have had Israel Folau’s “big shoes to fill” at fullback, but that didn’t hinder him from helping boot his side to a gritty 22-11 Super Rugby win over the Stormers in Cape Town.
Sans main attacking weapon Folau, Beale and five-eighth Bernard Foley kept NSW’s side of the Newland’s scoreboard ticking over on Sunday morning (AEST) with a flawless goal-kicking display for a combined haul of 17 points.
Beale also ramped up his playmaking role in Folau’s absence, constantly hitting runners on the inside and out wide.
“He knew they were big shoes to fill. He had responsibility, and he took it,” NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said.
It was a great time to play the Stormers, said Cheika, as his side dealt the cellar dwellers their fifth straight loss, while finishing their South African tour on a high with their first away win of the season.
“We got them in a good week. They had just had four weeks on tour, had a few injuries, no Jean de Villiers, no Schalk Burger, no Gio Aplon – so it hurt them,” Cheika said.
“We wanted put them under a bit of pressure. They were feeling the pressure a bit. You could just feel it in Cape Town that there was expectation on them.”
The two-try arm-wrestle was exactly the type of low-scoring affair one would expect against the defensively-strong Stormers, whose ill-discipline in the second half allowed the Waratahs to kick away through a string of penalty goals.
The win means the Waratahs are just the second side from 20 attempts this year to win a game after crossing the Indian Ocean, lifting them to fourth on the table and breaking an eight year Cape Town drought.
Halfback Nick Phipps scored the opening try in the 13th minute after swooping on an untidy Stormers scrum to put his side up 7-3.
But the home side soon hit back when centre Juan de Jongh made his second line break of the match to put winger Kobus van Wyk over.
The next 60 minutes went tryless, with the Waratahs outscoring the Stormers five penalty goals to one courtesy of Beale (six points) and Foley (11 points).
“There were slight errors, little small mistakes that crept in and that was our problem,” Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen said.
The Waratahs now turn their attention to the Western Force, who beat the Queensland Reds on Saturday to win four straight for the first time in their club’s nine year history.
Cheika is confident he’ll have Folau back on deck for the Perth clash.
“At this stage I’m very hopeful he will play,” Cheika said.
“But they (Force) are on fire aren’t they? It’s going to be tough.”
The Waratahs will likely head into that clash without outside backs Alofa Alofa (knee) and Peter Betham (foot), with the duo both expected to fly back to Sydney.