RUGBY: Superstar Israel Folau brushed aside a week of controversy surrounding his throat injury to put on a royal performance as NSW disposed of a stubborn Bulls 19-12 in a rugged Super Rugby encounter in Sydney.
Folau stood down last week by Australian Rugby Union officials, concerned his throat injury was not fully healed, took just 28 seconds to show he was back to his lethal best with an early try in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, guests at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
The win by the Waratahs, their first over the Bulls in their past nine encounters, lifted the NSW outfit into fourth place, just one point behind the Brumbies and Chiefs.
With the competition half over, three Australian teams - the Brumbies (second with 25 points), NSW (fourth with 24) and the Western Force (fifth with 23) are sitting in the top six.
The 2011 champions Queensland are still in the finals picture on 16 points, the same tally as the Rebels.
The Rebels have two games against the Queensland Reds coming up, which, as well as the heavyweight showdown between NSW and the Brumbies in the second-last round, are likely to play a big hand in which Australian teams make it into the finals.
The Sharks cemented their place at the top of the table with a 19-8 win over the Cheetahs in Durban.
Hurricanes 39 (A Leiua, J Savea, TJ Perenara, C Smith, M Matu'u tries; B Barrett 2 pen, 4 con) Blues 20 (G Moala try, penalty try; C Noakes pen, con; B Marshall pen, con) in Wellington on Friday night
Rebels 22 (S.Higginbotham try; J Woodward 5 pen, con) Force 16 (N Cummins try; S Ebersohn 3 pen; Z Holmes con) in Melbourne on Friday night
Crusaders 18 (C Slade 6 pen) Chiefs 17 (T Marshall try; G Anscombe 4 pen) in Hamilton on Saturday night
Waratahs 19 (I Folau try; B Foley 4 pen, con) Bulls 12 (J Potgieter 3 pen; H Pollard pen) in Sydney on Saturday night
Sharks 19 ( J Deysel try; F Steyn 3 pen, con; T Swiel pen) Cheetahs 8 (R Benjamin try; E Watts pen) in Durban on Saturday night
Stormers 18 (D de Allende, N Carr tries, P Grant pen, con; D Catrakilis con) Lions 3 (M Boshoff pen) in Cape Town on Saturday night
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