NSW Waratahs get long-awaited win in Super Rugby Pacific
SYDNEY (AP) — The New South Wales Waratahs achieved in their first outing of the season what they couldn’t do in all of 2021 — win a Super Rugby match.
The Waratahs easily beat debutants Fijian Drua 40-10 to open the Super Rugby Pacific season on Friday.
After a depressing and winless 2021 campaign, the Waratahs entered the new season in optimistic form after three preseason victories, including over fellow Super Rugby teams the ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds.
On Friday, the Waratahs ran in five tries to one. The bonus-point win snapped a 13-match losing streak stretching some 538 days since they beat the Melbourne Rebels in their final game of the 2020 Super Rugby Australia season.
The Waratahs led 21-3 at halftime.
Another new team from the Pacific islands, Moana Pasifika, was due to make its long-awaited debut on Friday as part of the first round of New Zealand matches. But its game against the Blues was postponed because of a minor COVID-19 outbreak within the squad composed mostly of players from Samoa and Tonga.
The border between New Zealand and Australia effectively remains closed, causing matches to be confined separately to each country and the Drua to join the Australian teams from a base in Queensland state.
All six New Zealand-based teams have moved to a hub in the South Island resort town of Queenstown for the first few weeks of the competition to lessen possible exposure to COVID as the omicron variant spreads in New Zealand.
In other weekend matches, Queensland plays the Rebels in Brisbane on Saturday and the Brumbies take on the Western Force at Canberra on Sunday.
The absence of Moana Pasifika takes the luster off the first round in New Zealand in which the Hamilton-based Chiefs will play the Dunedin-based Highlanders and the Christchurch-based Crusaders play the Wellington-based Hurricanes, both on Saturday.
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