It wasn’t pretty, but the Waratahs ground out a 28-17 victory over their arch rivals on Saturday night, the two sides destroying the famous SCG turf in the process.
Curators were almost as busy as the players.
Shovels in hand, repairmen were called on after every scrum to restore the shredded SCG surface that couldn’t cope with the two-tonne set pieces on a pitch usually reserved for cricket and AFL.
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But the historic venue is also hosting rugby games and other football codes as well due to the demolition of neighbouring Allianz Stadium.
At one point late on, four groundsmen were required to repair a series of gaping holes that would likely leave the Sydney Swans seething ahead of their looming start to the 2019 AFL season.
Queensland coach Brad Thorn was also less than impressed.
The Reds had hoped to target the Waratahs’ scrum, but Thorn felt the capitulating surface “shut down” that prospect.
“It’s professional sport … so that was disappointing,” he said.
“Rugby grounds, obviously there’s a lot of running around and tackling but there’s some things – the mauling and the scrummaging – so the ground’s pretty important.”
NSW coach Daryl Gibson agreed the surface was an issue. Officials and the SCG Trust have just a fortnight to try to resolve the problem before the Waratahs host the defending champion Crusaders.
“It’s certainly something the powers that be will look at and (consider) how it’s rectified for the next game,” Gibson said.
“We had 32 per cent of the ball, (made) 170-odd tackles, so we showed some real character there and withstood a lot of pressure,” he said.
With both sides scoring three tries apiece, it was 13 points from the boot of five-eighth Bernard Foley that proved the difference in front of a disappointing crowd of 15,681 for the conference derby.
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper was happy to escape with the four competition points.
“We haven’t really hit our straps yet in attack but we ran some really nice plays there tonight out of our own end,” Hooper said.
“I was pleased how we played to the end. That try at the end was a testament to our work rate – really pleased with that win.”
The Waratahs’ victory was their second from three outings this campaign and consigned the Reds to a worrying none-from-three start.
The Waratahs head to Canberra next week to play the Brumbies, with the Reds off to Tokyo for a must-win clash with the Sunwolves.
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