The Waratahs have proved that there is life after Folau, but we doubt Folau would have approved of the post-game hugs his former teammates shared on the field at the conclusion of their come-from-behind victory over the table-topping Rebels.
It was the final game for the Waratahs at SCG for 2019, as they will move over to play their home fixtures at the newly minted Bankwest Stadium, where it would be legitimately hoped that they could produce the sort of outcome the NRL Parramatta Eels produced in a 45-point win over Wests Tigers.
Folau has been stood down indefinitely, for the crime of having an opinion, admittedly an intolerant opinion, about the wrong group at the wrong time.
Folau is one of the better footballers around, so it was important for the Tahs to prove they could forge ahead without him. The game was practically a must-win scenario, as NSW is doggedly chasing the Rebels, while the Brumbies are nibbling at their heels and the Reds are squarely in the picture, at least if the number of wins is taken into account.
The Waratahs were on the wrong foot for most of the first half, as they dealt with an unfamiliar alignment that found Kurtley Beale at fullback and Karmichael Hunt at inside centre.
The resultant lack of structure made the Tahs seem as though they were unsure of which direction to attack and which to defend.
Post-game, Tahs coach Daryl Gibson supplied insights regarding the game plans the two sides employed, telling reporters, “Overall, it was a kickfest. Both teams came out with clear game plans, we were going to play territory and that contributed to the game. At halftime I said to the boys we’d made two errors off the back of some pressure and that was the difference between the two sides.”
The Waratahs made the correct shift at halftime and the second 40 minutes was almost as though the sides had gone into the changing room and traded shirts, with the Tahs emerging victorious by the score of 23 – 20.