Folau inspires Waratahs to Super 15 win over Bulls
Australian rugby team player Israel Folau (R) shares a light moment with a teammate during a training session in Sydney on July 2, 2013. Waratahs beat the Northern Bulls 19-12 on Saturday, April 19, 2014 - by Saeed Khan
Folau scored his ninth try of the season on his return from a throat injury to propel the Waratahs to a hard-fought 19-12 win over the South Africans in Sydney.
The Waratahs, watched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, ended a losing eight-match run against the Bulls in what was their first win over the triple Super Rugby champions since 2005.
The win took the Waratahs to within one point of the ACT Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference, while the Bulls remained second behind the Coastal Sharks in the South African conference.
Folau was controversially pulled out of the Waratahs match against Western Force in Perth last week by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) overriding the team's medical staff on the state of the prized fullback's bruised throat.
But the former rugby league international showed again what immense value he is to the Waratahs as he scored the only try of the game.
Fly-half Bernard Foley kicked four penalties and a conversion to keep the Waratahs in front against the fast-finishing Bulls.
The Bulls remain winless on their Australasian tour -- the only consolation that they picked up their third losing bonus point after earlier tight defeats to the Otago Highlanders and Wellington Hurricanes.
The Pretoria-based Bulls have lost their last six away games and will get their chance to break their drought in their final tour game against the Western Force in Perth next weekend.
Folau finished off smart lead-up work from Wallabies Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper to score what proved the only try of the match in the opening minute.
The Waratahs raced to a 13-0 lead after 23 minutes, but the Bulls fought back with three penalties from fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter to edge the South Africans to within four points at 13-9 early in the second half.
Foley kept the home side ahead with two more penalties, one coming from a yellow card on Bulls number eight Grant Hattingh for a head-high tackle on Michael Hooper.
But the Bulls continued to go after victory and a penalty two minutes from time from substitute Handre Pollard kept them in it at 19-12.
The Bulls kept the ball in hand and mauled their way into the Waratahs half as they chased a converted try for a draw, but their bid ended with a ruck infringement.
Both sides lost key players through injuries. Bulls scrum-half Piet van Zyl wrenched his knee in the first half and Beale limped off with a right ankle injury early in the second half.
"They are a quality team and they put us under pressure at the set piece and they kept attacking so I was really pleased that we hung in at the end," Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis said.
Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe said:"In the end it was that early try which caught us asleep, but well done to the boys, they stuck to their guns well.
"We just need to finish. We're playing good rugby, but just not scoring the tries."
The Waratahs have a short turnaround and face the Blues in Auckland next Friday.