Sydney – Wallaby star Israel Folau scored a dazzling hat-trick of tries as the New South Wales Waratahs launched their Super 15 season with a sizzling 43-21 bonus point win over Western Force on Sunday.
Folau took up where he left off in last year's trailblazing debut season with three tries in the Tahs' six tries-to-two win over Force in Sydney.
The fullback scored in the opening minute and added a second off a Wycliff Palu break and completed his hat-trick of tries in the 66th minute.
Folau has now scored 11 career Super Rugby tries after making the switch to rugby last year where he also scored 10 tries in 15
internationals for the Wallabies.
“Izzy certainly knows his way to the try-line and he's following on from last year,” Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said.
“Three tries straight up. He's a great player for us and the guys worked hard to give him those opportunities which was more important.
“The set piece is a strength of ours and we have a great back-line so we have to make sure we are on to the set piece and give them the opportunity to attack.”
It was a lively opening game for the Waratahs, who led 22-11 at halftime and clinched their bonus-point fourth try in the 57th minute through forward Kane Douglas.
It was the first time since round five in 2012 that the Waratahs have picked up a four-try bonus point in Super Rugby.
Fellow Wallaby Kurtley Beale, back with the Waratahs after a short stint at the Melbourne Rebels, impressed at inside-centre and featured in several of the team's passing rushes.
Beale dashed over for the Waratahs' sixth try in the final minutes.
Fly-half Bernard Foley finished with 13 points from five conversions and a penalty goal.
The Waratahs have been the under-achievers in Super Rugby despite their all-star lineup and made a strong start to the season under coach Michael Cheika.
Execution eluded the Waratahs too often, with the new-look playmaking combination of Foley and Beale lacking cohesion early in a mistake-riddled performance.
But the intention was there for the Waratahs, as they stuck with their attack-at-all-costs game plan.
Springbok hardman Jacques Potgieter came on in the second half and soon became involved with Force's South African contingent in robust exchanges.
The Force battled hard despite being outgunned out wide and finished with tries to Wallaby winger Nick Cummins and centre Kyle Godwin.
The Perth-based team had a scare when their South African flanker Brynard Stander was taken from the field on a medi-cab with his neck in a precautionary brace late in the match. – Sapa-AFP