The Waratahs braved torrential rain to kick off their 2012 campaign with an impressive display, running in 13 tries against a physical Samoan side at Tamworth on Friday.
While centre Tom Carter scored twice and there was a second half hat-trick for hooker Damien Fitzpatrick, the real star was South African import Sarel Pretorius.
Making his debut in sky blue, the scrumhalf, Pretorius, showed his class - having a hand in three first half tries and almost crossing himself early in the second quarter.
"Sarel looked sharp and was a constant threat around the edges of the ruck," Waratahs coach Michael Foley said.
Foley was also pleased that his team experienced some testing conditions.
"We said we wanted to see how we could control the game in unexpected conditions, and with torrential rain we certainly did that," the mentor said.
"I thought our two forward packs gave us good platform and our No.9s and No.10s in particular made excellent decisions.
"One thing that stood out for me was our discipline, we retained our composure in difficult conditions, and on the back of that we were able to control the game by sticking to what we said we wanted to do."
The darkened skies and driving rain didn't dampen the Tahs' ambition.
Although both teams had to work harder to hold on to the ball, Pretorius and Berrick Barnes did well to control the game in their first outing together, with Barnes' astute decision making and tactical kicking ensuring providing some early scoring opportunities for his pacey backline.
A Pretorius chip kick allowed fellow debutant Brackin Karauria-Henry to score on 15 minutes, before the South African was on hand again, this time off the back of a ruck to set up Lachie Turner, with Carter crossing for his second before the quarter was up.
"We moved the ball around well at times, I was impressed by how well we adjusted to the conditions," said Foley.
"Both packs had plenty to do, tidying up and getting us going forward. Our outside backs didn't get the ball in hand as much as we would have liked but their work rate in working back for the kick chase and in loose play was exceptional."
Keen to impress his home town crowd was Tamworth local Paddy Ryan, who made the most of his opportunities with ball in hand, making good yards on several occasions. Playing at No.8, Pat McCutcheon put in a try scoring performance in an unfamiliar position. His main rival for the openside spot, Chris Alcock, was physical and abrasive before being forced to leave the field to have a cut lip stitched up, shortly before the half hour was up.
It was a new look team that took to the park for the second half and a new set of conditions that greeted them, as the rain finally stopped.
"There are a few issues we need to work on," conceded Foley.
"But when you look at this as 120 minutes of rugby and our first of the year, and factor in the most unexpected of conditions, our discipline was the feature that most caught my eye.. What stood out was the way we were able to adjust when we needed to."
The Waratahs will now face Tonga at the Sydney Football Stadium next Friday, February 17.
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