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Alofa shines in Waratahs victory

Sunday, February 09, 2014

SYDNEY - All eyes were on Benji Marshall in his first Sydney outing since quitting the NRL, but the former Wests Tigers star was outshone by an unheralded league convert in the Waratahs' 33-12 Super Rugby trial win at Allianz Stadium.

Twenty-two-year-old winger Alofa Alofa, an ex-Sydney Roosters under-20s player announced himself as a player to watch for the Waratahs this year with a try and several passages of dazzling footwork.

Meanwhile, Kurtley Beale might have started at fullback, but he put his name forward to begin his comeback season at the Waratahs in the hotly-contested No.10 jersey, after igniting the NSW backline with the opening try, some sharp passing and then a brilliant first-half chip-and-chase.

Friday night's match started as a dour struggle, but soon opened up, with Beale, Israel Folau and rookie flyer Alofa putting together a tidy highlights package to kick-start the Waratahs season.

The former Kiwis captain was steamrolled by giant Waratahs back rower Will Skelton as NSW took an early 14-0 lead.

Marshall was replaced at halftime, coinciding with the benchmark of cross-code stars, Folau taking the field for the opposition - although the NSW fullback made a rare error, fumbling a kick which allowed Charles Piutau to bring the Blues' back into the match at 21-12.

However, Folau made amends just 10 minutes later when he put Stephen Hoiles over in the corner with the silkiest of flick-passes to put the result beyond doubt.

NSW held the ball for virtually the entire opening 11 minutes of the match, before Beale scooped up a loose pass from halfback Nick Phipps and surged over from close range.

Bernard Foley started at five-eighth and also scored a try, but it was Beale who put the No.10 through a hole in the 13th minute with a pin-point face-ball at the line.

The Waratahs' backs interchanged positions throughout the night, but the most revealing find of the night was West Harbour product Alofa — who finished off the try of the night in the 67th minute.

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