Super Rugby 2019: Waratahs survive Sunwolves scare

Israel Falou
Israel Falou. Photo credit: Image: Getty

The NSW Waratahs have survived an enormous Super Rugby fright from the Sunwolves, scraping home 31-30 thanks to a record-breaking double from Israel Folau.

The Japanese side came painfully close to pulling off a boilover on Saturday in Tokyo, only denied victory when five-eighth Hayden Parker skewed a late dropped- goal attempt.

Under pressure from Karmichael Hunt, Parker couldn't land his attempt from straight in front of the posts, ending a game in which the Kiwi's accurate goalkicking kept the Sunwolves in touch.

The visitors scored five tries to three but ill-discipline and poor handling let them down again, as was the case in last week's opening 20-19 loss to the Hurricanes.

It almost cost them dearly against the competition's wooden-spoon favourites, forced to spend most of the last 10 minutes defending grimly after winger Gerhard van den Heever's second try pulled the Sunwolves to within a point.

The Waratahs had cause to thank Wallabies fullback Israel Folau, the game's most-dangerous attacking player, who crossed twice within five minutes midway through the first half.

The first came from a slick Hunt offload while the second was typical Folau, leaving a trail of defenders in his wake.

It lifted the 29-year-old to 58 Super Rugby tries, one ahead of Joe Roff for the most by an Australian.

Folau sits one try behind record holder, retired Blues flyer Doug Howlett.

That milestone will mean little to Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson, whose team have averaged 40-point wins over the Sunwolves in their three previous meetings. Last year, it was 77-25 in Sydney.

The visitors' other first-half try was an opportunistic effort from inside centre Kurtley Beale.

Back-rower Jack Dempsey burrowed over soon after the break, followed by a penalty try as the Sunwolves conceded a series of infringements on their line.