Winger Joe Tomane scored three tries as the Brumbies beat the Waratahs 26-20 in Sydney on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
With the Rebels losing to the Hurricanes on Friday, the Brumbies are now four points clear at the top of the Australian conference. The Waratahs' fourth defeat in six matches leaves them well outside the playoff spots in the Australasian group, which is being dominated by the New Zealand franchises.
This was a competitive Australian derby that went one way, then the other and back again. The Brumbies led 12-0 early on, and while the Waratahs then scored 17 unanswered points, tries before and after the break put the visitors back in charge.
Despite being without the suspended David Pocock, the Brumbies dominated the breakdown, with their last two tries coming from penalties conceded by Michael Hooper on the ground.
The first half of this match provided more entertainment than the second.
Israel Folau took a heavy blow after being tackled in the first minute and had to leave the field. The Waratahs were awarded a penalty at that ruck, but Bernard Foley's attempt went wide.
The Brumbies then opened the scoring at the other end when the ball went wide to Tomane, who cut back inside past Nick Phipps to score a converted try.
The Tahs were given a boost when Folau returned having passed his concussion test, but that didn't prevent the visitors from scoring again. The Brumbies forced a turnover and sent the ball out to Tomane, who received possession just inside the Tahs' half. The winger sprinted down the right-hand touchline and cut back inside past Andrew Kellaway.
The hosts opened their account at the start of the second quarter when they attacked from inside their half. The ball reached Jed Holloway, who thew a dummy and ran strongly before putting Reece Robinson over for his first Super Rugby try. Foley kicked the conversion and then slotted a penalty to reduce the deficit to two.
The Tahs briefly took the lead in the 32nd minute when Kurtley Beale straightened the line and found Kellaway, who put Folau away for his record-equalling 29th try for the Sydney-based franchise.
The Brumbies, though, hit back when Steven Moore went over from a lineout driving maul, with Leali'ifano's conversion coming in-off to make it 19-17 at the break.
While the Waratahs were able to stop another lineout driving maul early in the second half, they couldn't deal with the Brumbies backs, with Aidan Toua putting Tomane away for his hat-trick try.
The rest of the half was largely forgettable although there would be an exciting finish.
Both teams had players yellow-carded late on, Wycliff Palu for a shoulder charge at a ruck and Jarrad Butler for rucking an opponent. The penalty Butler conceded, in the 77th minute, allowed Foley to narrow the gap to six.
With time up, the Tahs took play into the opposition 22 but Paddy Ryan knocked on and the Brumbies celebrated.
Waratahs – Tries: Reece Robinson, Israel Folau. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Foley (2).
Brumbies – Tries: Joe Tomane (3), Stephen Moore. Conversions: Christian Leali'ifano (3).
Waratahs – 15 Andrew Kellaway 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Matt Carraro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Tom Robertson 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Angus Ta’avo, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Dave Dennis, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 David Horwitz.
Brumbies – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Robbie Coleman, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Leali'ifano (c), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Jordan Smiler, 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 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Joe Powell, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images