The Brumbies clinched a 32-15 victory over the Waratahs in Canberra on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The Brumbies made the biggest statement on the opening weekend of Super Rugby when they hammered the Hurricanes, but they were nowhere as clinical this time around. Nevertheless, their victory ended a four-match losing streak against the Tahs, and underlined their status as the Australian team to beat.
Although the Waratahs kicked off their campaign with a comfortable win over the Reds last weekend, they were guilty of conceding 18 penalties in that clash, and their ill-discipline continued in Canberra. Five penalties were given away in the first seven minutes, which included lock Will Skelton being sin-binned for a high tackle.
Flyhalf Christian Leali'ifano duly made the Waratahs pay for their indiscretions as he slotted a third-minute penalty before impressively darting over for a try soon after.
Despite trailing 8-0, the Waratahs then made a bold call when they opted to kick a penalty to the corner, and they received due reward when fullback Israel Folau went on to score just after the quarter-hour mark.
However, the joy for the visitors was short-lived when Dean Mumm was the next to be shown a yellow card for cynically collapsing a tryline-bound rolling maul, but this time the Brumbies failed to make their numerical advantage count.
In fact, a penalty from Waratahs flyhalf Kurtley Beale drew the scores level before half-time, and considering the two yellow cards and high penalty count, they would have been thrilled with that scoreline at the break.
In an interview at half-time, disappointed coach Stephen Larkham emphasised that the Brumbies needed to adopt a far more structured approach in the second stanza, and they looked to have finally taken control of proceedings when winger Joe Tomane burst over to score just before the hour mark.
Waratahs scrumhalf Nick Phipps scored a breakaway try soon after to bring the Tahs briefly back into the game, but the decisive moment in the match came when the hosts were awarded a penalty try in the 69th minute after a dominant scrum.
There was a late twist when Beale looked to have scored for the Tahs, but the try was ruled out due to obstruction, and Brumbies replacement Nigel Ah Wong went over for one last score with the final play of the game.
Brumbies – Tries: Christian Leali'ifano, Joe Tomane, penalty try, Nigel Ah Wong. Conversions: Leali'ifano (2), Matt Toomua. Penalties: Leali'ifano (2).
Waratahs – Tries: Israel Folau, Nick Phipps. Conversion: Kurtley Beale. Penalty: Beale.
Brumbies – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Leali'ifano (c), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 David Dennis, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Subs: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Matt Sandell, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty Images