Folau stars as Waratahs scrape home 31-30 in Japan
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, with the visitors 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 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 and the second was typical Folau, who left 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 the 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.