Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau sizzled as the NSW Waratahs shot back to the top of the Australian conference with a 32-8 Super Rugby whipping of the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.
After a mundane first half, three flashes of brilliance from Beale turned the match and sparked the Waratahs to a third bonus-point triumph in four starts this campaign.
With victory, the Waratahs also regained the Weary Dunlop Shield after the Rebels’ surprise win last year season in Melbourne.
Shown the door by the Rebels last year after a series of off-field misdemeanours, Beale reminded his former teammates what they were missing with a classy display at Allianz Stadium.
With the Waratahs ambling and clinging to an 11-8 lead early in the second half, Beale’s sharp inside pass to Peter Betham sliced the defence open and the fleet-footed winger raced 40 metres to dive over in the left-hand corner.
Moments later, Beale made a scything 20-metre run before picking up Folau on the inside, with the fullback strolling over untouched to score under the sticks.
With five-eighth Bernard Foley slotting both conversions, suddenly the Waratahs were in command at 25-8 up after 50 minutes.
Fittingly, the Waratahs’ bonus point came late when Beale made a clean break from inside his own quarter and Folau loomed up in support to cash in for his eighth try in four matches in 2014.
But Beale and Folau weren’t NSW’s only stars.
Foley also impressed, while giant lock Will Skelton proved a menacing presence after being promoted to start.
South African important Jacques Potgeiter excelled after being shifted from the second row to blindside flanker.