The Waratahs laid down a marker as they defeated the Brumbies 28-13 in Sydney. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
The defending champions have been far from their best so far this season, and have already suffered surprise defeats to the Force and Highlanders. On Sunday, the passes stuck, their scrum dominated, and their defence held out in the second half as they recorded a solid result against the current Australian conference leaders.
The Brumbies, apart from a brief period midway through the second half, were unable to exert any pressure on their hosts, and were comfortably beaten in the end.
It had all started so brightly for Stephen Larkham's men, as Matt Toomua scythed through the Waratahs' defence in the second minute to hand them the lead.
The Waratahs responded with two penalties from the boot of Bernard Foley after Scott Fardy was harshly sent to the sin bin for a knock-down.
Israel Folau was having a big game for the Waratahs, and it was his powerful break that set up the host's first try of the game. He beat fellow Wallaby Tevita Kuridrani on the outside before finding Foley, who went over to level things up.
It wasn't long before the Waratahs hit the front, and it was Folau who went over for a well-deserved try. Foley maintained his perfect record from the kicking tee, and the Waratahs went into the break leading 23-13.
The second half failed to live up to the helter-skelter of the first, with both teams cancelling each other out. There was still time for one more moment of magic from Folau, as his break from deep inside his own 22m culminated in Tolu Latu crashing over in the corner to wrap up a comfortable victory.
The win moves the Waratahs above the Vodacom Bulls into 8th place on the overall log, while the Brumbies remain six points clear at the top of the Australian conference, despite the loss.
Waratahs – Tries: Bernard Foley, Israel Folau, Tolu Latu. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Foley (3).
Brumbies – Try: Matt Toomua. Conversion: Christian Leali'ifano. Penalties: Leali'ifano (2).
Waratahs – 5 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Stephen Hoiles, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Peter Betham.
Brumbies – 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 David Pocock, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Lausii Taliauli, 23 James Dargaville.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images