The Waratahs beat the Western Force 23-14 in Super Rugby AU at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Will Harrison’s boot and tries from Angus Bell and Tom Staniforth saw the Waratahs over the line in a tricky match against the unknown Force.
The stand-off kicked three penalties and two conversions in a flawless display from the tee.
Byron Ralston scored the Perth-based team’s only try on return to Super Rugby in three years.
Ian Prior’s boot helped his team to a handy lead, but a blow before the break seemed to break the visitors’ spirits as the Tahs took control.
The Western Force took a handy 14-point lead after 37 minutes thanks to Ralston’s debut Super Rugby score and three penalties from the trusty boot of skipper Prior.
Tim Sampson’s men had the better of the first stanza’s possession (56%)and territory (60%), and they turned it into points.
The Force’s back row gave the Tahs all matter of problems, winning penalties at the breakdown, which allowed Prior to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Their kicking accuracy kept the Waratahs on the backfoot and inside their half, while their scrum held its own against their vaunted opposition.
But the Waratahs struck through Bell on the stroke of halftime to get Rob Penney’s side on the board.
Harrison added the extras to half the deficit as the teams went into the shed.
The home team scored 20 unanswered points as they took control of the contest.
Harrison added a penalty to reduce the gap to four points, six minutes after the interval.
The hosts increased the tempo; dominating territory and possession, but ill-discipline at the breakdown, sloppy handling and poor lineout play meant they did not have any more points to show for their work.
The visitors’ scrum started to take hold, winning penalties after bringing on the reinforcements.
Andrew Ready tackled Michael Hooper without the ball allowing Harrison to kick an easy penalty and make it a one-point ballgame on the hour.
NSW kept coming, scoring a minute later after a lucky 50-22 kick set-up an attacking lineout inside the opposition’s 22.
A few pick-and-drives later, Staniforth crashed over under the posts moments later. Harrison added the extras to make it 20-14 with 16 minutes remaining.
It was all Waratahs in the final quarter.
Harrison added his third penalty, on 74 minutes, to make it a two-score game, effectively ending any chance of an upset.
The Force were spent, but they did not disgrace themselves on their return to Super Rugby.