SYDNEY, May 18 (Reuters) - Flyhalf Bernard Foley contributed 25 points as the New South Wales Waratahs snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Queensland Reds 40-32 in a hardfought Super Rugby contest in Brisbane on Saturday.
Brushing aside the distraction of Israel Folau’s sacking by the team on Friday, the 2014 champions secured an 11th straight win in a rivalry that dates back to 1882 to remain in the hunt for the Australian conference title.
Wallabies pivot Foley scored his side’s first try, nailed all four conversions and slotted four penalties in the last 20 minutes to secure the win after a topsy-turvy contest at Lang Park.
The Reds will think they deserved better after scoring six tries but rue the place-kicking of their flyhalf Bryce Hegarty, who crossed for two five-pointers himself but left 10 points on the park through five missed conversions.
The win puts the Waratahs third in the Australia conference on 26 points, two behind the Melbourne Rebels and three back of leaders the ACT Brumbies. Queensland are fourth with 23.
Foley gave the Waratahs the perfect start with his try in the fourth minute but the Reds hit back with two tries in the four minutes from lock Angus Blyth and winger Jock Campbell, the latter after a sublime Samu Kerevi offload.
Number eight Michael Wells got the visitors back in front with his first try after Kurtley Beale had forced his way over the line, but it was the fullback’s error which allowed Sefa Naivalu to cross, sending the Reds into the break with a 15-14 lead.
The Waratahs continued their errors in the second half with Reds centre Chris Feauai-Sautia intercepting a Foley pass to allow Hegarty to get his first try soon after the resumption.
Winger Alex Newsome hit back two minutes later for the Waratahs off a pass from Beale but Hegarty carved through the visiting defence to restore the Reds advantage with his second try in nine minutes.
Hegarty hit the upright with his first two conversion attempts and his fifth was charged down so when Wells got reward for some Waratahs pressure with his second converted try after 54 minutes, the visitors were back in front 28-27.
Foley kicked a penalty to extend the lead but Reds fullback Matt McGahan sent up a perfect crosskick in the 65th minute which hooker Alex Mafi hauled in to edge Queensland back in front.
The almost unerring boot of Foley added another three points from the kicking tee three minutes later to put the Waratahs back in front for good and the flyhalf added two more in the last four minutes to inflate the scoreline. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Pritha Sarkar )