The Waratahs kept their play-off hopes alive after beating the Highlanders 33-7, bagging an all-important bonus point in the process.
The Waratahs kept their play-off hopes alive after beating the Highlanders 33-7 in Sydney, bagging an all-important bonus point in the process.
The five tries to one victory moves the Waratahs into fifth place on the overall log, but the eighth-placed Highlanders' season is now over as the now have no chance of finishing in the top six.
Centre Tom Carter crossed the whitewash three times for the hosts, while flank Dave Dennis and replacement halfback Josh Holmes also added their names to the score sheet.
The result was never in doubt for the Waratahs, after leading 19-7 at half-time.
Beale set up the opening score of the game for Carter, and another counter-attack from the Waratahs full-back led to Dennis finishing off a delightful 80m move.
Highlanders hooker Jason Rutledge burrowed over to get the visitors on the board, but Carter responded with his second try two minutes before the break, and Beale's conversion gave the hosts a handy 12-point lead at the break.
Their trans-Tasman rivals dominated possession after the interval but were unable to breach the Waratahs defence, and another home counter-attack sent Carter over for his hat-trick.
The hosts rounded off victory in style in the final minute when Beale's clever cross-field kick picked out Holmes to dive in under the posts.
Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh, who played 40 minutes in his comeback match from a hamstring injury, said he was proud of his team's performance.
“We got stuck there a little bit after halftime but the guys have just got back from South Africa and to come out the way we did and get that bonus point is going to be pretty important,” Waugh said.
“The Highlanders are a tough team to play and the guys hung in well and it's really pleasing to return to Sydney and perform the way we did.”
Tries: Carter 3, Dennis, Holmes
Cons: Beale 4
Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Tom Carter, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Sosene Anesi, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Pat O'Connor, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Hugh Perrett, 21 Josh Holmes, 22 Atieli Pakalani.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Siale Piutau, 10 Tony Brown, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Bronson Murray, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh. (c).
Replacements: 16 Mo Schwalger, 17 Chris King, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 John Hardie, 22 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 Telusa Veainu.
Referee: Chris Pollock