Tahs destroy Sunwolves to set up home quarter-final
WARATAHS coach Daryl Gibson has urged rugby to follow the NRL's style of putting players on report rather than sending them off, after his side smashed Japan's Sunwolves by a record score of 77-25 with an extra man.
NSW demolished the visitors at Allianz Stadium in a second-half blitz after Sunwolves winger Semisi Masirewa was sent off at the end of the first half with the Tahs leading 24-18.
The Tahs have secured a home quarter-final, but Gibson sympathised with his rivals after the match-turning decision by referee Federico Anselmi to send off Masirewa for a dangerous tackle on Bernard Foley in the 39th minute.
"The effect it has on a game, it takes away the contest," Gibson said.
"In that instance, the referee has no option, he's following to the letter of the law, that's what he's required to do.
"Having an intermediary step that's not quite a red card, give them some options, it's sensible."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen recently called for players to be put on report rather than sent off in a game, and Sunwolves coach Tony Brown agrees.
"Steve Hansen said 'put players on report like they do in league and play on', maybe a yellow card and then if it's a serious incident he gets suspended after the game, and then the game is not affected as much as it was tonight or in the All Black Test against France, same thing," Brown said.
Foley said he had serious concerns as he was upended and landed on his head by Masirewa after passing the ball.
"It's unfortunate, but how I ended up it gives the ref no option in terms of the outcome,' Foley said.
With the record-breaking victory - this was the Tahs' highest score in Super Rugby history - they've won the Australian conference regardless of the results next week in the final round of regular play, and can guarantee second place overall by defeating the Brumbies next Saturday.
NSW surpassed the 73-12 win over Johannesburg's Lions in 2010 at the same ground.
Winger Taqele Naiyaravoro broke the Waratahs' all-time try-scoring record in one season, crossing twice in front of a season-best 18,059 fans.
Naiyaravoro now has 14 tries in 2018, and has overtaken the record of 12 set by Israel Folau in the premiership-winning year of 2014.
Folau bagged a double himself, as did replacement back Alex Newsome.
Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona, Michael Wells, Ned Hanigan, Sekope Kepu and Kurtley Beale also crossed for tries, eight of which came in the second half for the home side.
Twelve minutes into the second half the game was done as NSW scored three quick tries to lead 46-18.
From then it was just a matter of the margin and whether NSW could break records.
Leading 60-25 with 11 minutes remaining, Sunwolves replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on rival Jake Gordon that looked worse than Masirewa's effort, locking Gordon's neck and pulling his head down onto the turf as the Tah flipped over.
The record beckoned and NSW delivered with three in the last eight minutes of play.
A frantic 17-minute period to end the first half produced five incredible tries and a send-off, spinning the match on its head.
The Tahs took a six-point lead to the break, and were assured of having a one-man advantage for the second half after Masirewa was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Foley as he set up Folau's second try.
The Sunwolves had led 18-12 with six minutes remaining in the half after tries to winger Akihito Yamada and Michael Leitch, but the brilliance of NSW's attacking stars ensured they held the lead.
A defensive blunder by Foley, allowing a clearing kick to bounce before Yamada raced to it and scored, followed by a poor attempt at a tackle on Leitch saw Hanigan palmed off, raised concern.
But within that was the scintillating attack of Folau, Beale and Foley, who combined for tries to the fullback in the 25th and 39th minute, and one to Beale in the 34th.