Rugby fans voted with their feet on Saturday night with thousands flooding Brookvale Oval to watch the Waratahs take on the Blues in the first ever Super Rugby match at the Northern Beaches ground.
Close to 15,000 fans, young and old, packed into the suburban ground, filling up the hill with the colour of sky blue and making their presence felt throughout the game. However, it wasn't enough to power the Tahs home, who came within metres of scoring the match winning try before a Kurtley Beale cross-field kick sent the ball flying over Israel Folau's head and into touch.
A mix of regular Waratahs fans and first time supporters, the ground was full of noise throughout the 80 minutes of action, roaring in support of Michael Hooper and his men while they jeered at several Jaco Peyper calls.
It was an atmosphere not felt at a Waratahs' game since their winning Super Rugby season in 2014, with the old "New South Wales, New South Wales" chant making a reappearance in the dying minutes of the match.
"For us out there on the field it was fantastic," Waratahs captain Hooper said post match. "You'd have to go back a couple of years to hear that New South Wales chant right on the end.
"For me being a Manly boy, it was awesome, it really brought a smile to my face and that's why it hurt; it hurts a little bit more and it is disappointing that we couldn't do that [win]. But if that's a test for potentially in years going forward, I think it ticked the boxes."
Despite the disappointing loss, the atmosphere was buoyant with fans decrying Allianz's cold atmosphere, with three fans telling ESPN they never attend Waratahs games because there is never any "vibe" at Allianz Stadium, but a return to suburban grounds would "definitely draw more people in".
Disappointing fans only two weeks ago with their abysmal showing against the Lions, the Tahs had the perfect opportunity to impress their long suffering supporters while also ending Australia's losing streak to New Zealand opposition. Unfortunately for the Tahs and their fans, poor execution cruelled their hopes for a win and pushed Australia's losing streak out to 38 games.
"It's a big narrative, but we can only control what we're doing and the other teams are probably going to say the same thing," Hooper said of the losing streak. "But we've got another three games against these guys [New Zealand teams], three good cracks, and we're going to focus week-to-week.
"This one hurts, it is disappointing, but we've got to go again. Every game's tough, we're fully aware of that."
Israel Folau's return after five weeks away through a hamstring injury buoyed the side, with the fullback making his presence felt immediately, especially under the highball. Threatening to break through any time he had the ball, Folau made three clean breaks while beating six defenders in an impressive return to form.
"Absolutely, [Folau was impressive]. I thought he looked full of energy, and every time he had the ball he was a threat," Waratahs coach Darrly Gibson said. "[Not surprised by his immediate impact], he's a champion player, and that's what we expect of our best players and he showed again tonight, why he is a champion."