Brumbies beat Waratahs in dire rugby - Green and Gold Rugby
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Brumbies beat Waratahs in dire rugby

Brumbies beat Waratahs in dire rugby
Brumby captain Sam Carter receiving the Dan Vickerman trophy.

Brumby captain Sam Carter receiving the Dan Vickerman trophy.

Two of the big teams in Australian rugby met in turbulent times with added impetus – the inaugural Vickerman Cup in support of mental health and in memory of a player highly regarded by the Waratahs and the Brumbies. RIP Dan Vickerman.

The wet ground conditions led to some dire rugby as both sides turned over the ball like millionaires.  In the end it was the Brumbies who seized their chances best and put the Waratahs away, easily at the end.

Nick Phipps goes up for a high ball

Nick Phipps goes up for a high ball

First half

There are a few nice passages of play early but spillage puts paid to any results.

Constant Waratah possession ultimately pushes the defence at the try line. The Brumbies test the referee’s patience and Fardy gets an early yellow card for collapsing a maul. Waratahs continue to drive, then a series of pick-and-go’s has Robertson scoring a front rower’s try near the posts.

The Brumbies can’t play territory without the pill, and their first phase, or exit kicks, are not achieving what they are after.  Waratahs getting over the advantage line routinely but good Brumbies’ defence and poor Tah’s handling stops try-scoring chances.

Bryce Hegarty receives some special attention

Bryce Hegarty receives some special attention

But eventually the Brumbies start winning the kicking and retaining-the-ball contests, and using the maul better.

In the 26th minute the Brumbies set up a maul from a 5-metre line out throw to the front. Not ideal for a maul setup and Big Will Skelton goes through the middle forcing Powell to play it. Even with Hooper standing off the maul, there is not enough defence as Speight punches up. The next phase has the defence looser and no-one will halt Kuridrani this close to the line. Try under the posts.

Mostly it’s fumble and slow ball between the 22s. Does it all sound like a touch of tedium? If so I’m getting close to reality.

Halftime score: Waratahs 7 – Brumbies 7

Another scrum penalty for the Brumbies.

Another scrum penalty for the Brumbies.

Second half

Larkham stated earlier that he’s expecting the Waratahs to tire in the second half on their return from an African tour.

Will Skelton does not return. As an impact player, it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t give him another ten minutes after the break. Which is what happens with Phipps – replaced by Jake Gordon. Brumbies swap Arnold for Enever at about the same time. It’s a tiring, heavy game where the reserve bench is used by both teams quite early.

The game style continues. Both teams looking for territory – the Brumbies are better at it. There are plenty of scrums and mauls. The forwards earned their keep in this game.

The newcomers take a few minutes to settle in to give us the best 10 minutes of the game.

Dean Mumm doesn't share lineout ball

Dean Mumm doesn’t share lineout ball

A Waratahs’ scrum inside their 22 is a success but is failed by infringement when Jed Holloway holds back Scott Fardy from exiting the scrum. Completely unnecessary and provides possession to the Brumbies in excellent position.

Kick to corner! Little confidence shown in Hawera’s goal kicking here. The throw is to Carter – the maul set up might prefer a deeper jumper but this works. Maul-wrecker Skelton is off the field, of course. Try to reserve hooker Robbie Abel.

Hawera converts from more-or-less where the penalty was – it’s all smiles at the Brumbies.

From the re-start Powell box kicks down the tram tracks; nobody home and Speight is charging. It’s wonderful when a half box kick is done with cunning, vision and strategy. Speight gets the golden bounce and kicks it over Hegarty, and it’s a race to collect it .  Try! That’s two tries in three minutes. Hawera converts – there is nothing wrong with his goal-kicking after all.

Speight on his way to his first try of the evening.

Speight on his way to his first try of the evening.

It’s a repeat of the last re-start but the Powell box kick isn’t quite as accurate, just a touch too deep. Kellaway gathers it easily and puts the foot down for easy distance getting close to the 22. Simple first phase through the hands and it’s the Waratahs. Try to Jake Gordon!  Brumbies 21-12 and 17 minutes still left.

A territory battle ensues with the Brumbies doing it better.

Scrums swallow time – the Brumbies set piece finally taking ascendancy. The Brumbies take a couple of penalties. One from the half way line. Hawera kicks to just outside the 22.

I’m not the only one predicting the Brumbies to be backing their set piece here. Blake Enever takes the throw and the maul is set. The Waratahs fail to sack the line out. The maul makes 15m until the Waratahs start pushing back forcing Powell to play it. One pass to Speight, a slip by a defender, and two tacklers not used, and Speight is in for his second.  Try!

Full-time score: Brumbies 28 – Waratahs 12

Henry Speight dives over for his second try.

Henry Speight dives over for his second try.

The wrap-up

Perhaps Larkham was right and the African tour left the Waratahs without energy. Perhaps the injuries forced Daryl Gibson’s hand when it came to selection. Certainly, the absence of Bernard Foley is impacting the team.

Whatever caused the selections, it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that the lighter loose forward experiment failed against the heavier loose forwards of the Brumbies – in the wet at any rate.

Skelton is having an impact, but it probably needs to be more than one half of rugby. Latu, Mumm, Simone, Folau and Kellaway had flashes.

It could be a long year for Waratah fans.

Nick Phipps goes up for a high ball

Nick Phipps goes up for a high ball

I’ve been somewhat sceptical of Larkham’s early entry to coaching at the Wallabies. This game however was a win by Larkham. Selections, replacements and game strategy were spot on for the conditions.

The team was a little slow in getting the game plan into place, but once there, it was generally one-way traffic.

Speight and Kuridrani have a look about them that says “Regular Wallaby”.

Carter, Arnold and Enever were a rock platform for the set piece. Fardy is reaching form again – unfortunately including his enthusiasm for the sin bin.

Captain Sam Carter salutes the Brumbies fans.

Captain Sam Carter salutes the Brumbies fans.

The Game Changer

The Waratahs simply did not make enough of the first 20 minutes especially against 14 men. The game turned with Speight’s first try (and the Brumbies second).


Henry Speight can’t be missed with two tries and great input around the field. Honourable mentions to Aidan Toua and Dean Mumm.

Wallaby Watch

Outside of the predictable, let’s watch closely: Joe Powell and Aiden Toua. Will Skelton is the same mix of frustration, good and bad, but let’s keep our eye on him too.

Score & Scorers

Waratahs – 12

Tries: T. Robertson, 9′, J. Gordon 63′.

Penalties: R. Robinson 11′.

Brumbies – 28

Tries: H. Speight (61′, 74′), T. Kuridrani 27′, R. Abel 58′.

Conversions: W. Hawera (28′, 60, 62′, 74′).

Cards & Citings

Yellow Card
Brumbies – S. Fardy 8′ – (pulling down maul).



Photos by PM Photography – thank you Peter Mitchell

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    Not wishing to seem like I’m constantly picking on Phipps – who didn’t get charged down this week – but while I’m willing him on to clear the pill, the chance is lost time and time again with some Brumby rumbling through and kicking the ball down field. No such problem with his replacement.
    I was hoping that Gibbo, coming from the land of the land white cloud and boggy footy field, would sort out our wet weather game. Last night the Tahs looked to me like Brumby Light versus Brumby full strength. Similar enough but not as strong.

    • Pclifto

      Haha love this comment.

      Brumby Light leaves an awful aftertaste…

  • farthing

    Folau might be the greatest outside centre on earth but how could you know? I swear he never got the ball passed in front of him all night. Are they being trained to pass slightly behind their teammates hip?

    Also why isn’t Horne defending in the middle? He has to be one of the best centre defenders on earth but instead they are relying on Simone. Who incidentally should be dropped because he has had a fair chance at not yet taken it.

    Also why can’t Naiyaravoro get a run? Also Reece Robinson was great in the NRC but all Waratah backline play seem designed to keep him away from the ball. Also give Jake Gordon a go cause Phipps looks like he turned 43 in the off season.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Sorry mate I don’t think Folau is a centre at all. He looked lost out there and most of the time was playing anywhere except centre. His one on one defence was crap and he’s not getting ball in space at 13. He also doesn’t contest kicks there and that is by far his greatest skill set. I personally think he looks lost and hasn’t hit his head in the game at all

  • Bobas

    The wallabies are in trouble if Toua and Skelton are worth watching after this match.

    • Pedro

      I thought Toua had a decent game, had a few smart kicks and ran well at times. I might have missed some stuff though from my vantage point.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Skelton was rubbish. I didn’t think he had much impact at all

      • Brumby Runner

        He was very easily kept in check. Made as many backwards metres as those going forwards, I thought. Still a level above his locking partner.

  • Pedro

    As a Brumby supporter I didn’t think the rugby was especially dire, any time you score four tries you can’t complain. The set piece and kicking for the brumbies in the second half was great in the conditions. Speight is back to his best, injecting himself at the right time and showing the effortless pace that made the ARU chase him a few years back.

    The tahs need better organisation too many times they had a only two back and the brumbies found the grass with kicks into the tahs 22. I’d put horwitz at outside centre as an extra playmaker and drop Folau back to 15 to help with both the lack of cutting edge in attack and lack of positional play in the back three.

    • Merrow

      I’ll second that. Apart from the first 20, from a Brumbies supporters viewpoint, it wasn’t dire at all. From a Tahs perspective…..

  • Stin

    One of the worst games I’ve ever seen. I’ll stick with the Tahs but making the effort to get to the ground is proving difficult. Phipps has done his time surely.

    • Fatflanker

      Beaten wife syndrome Stin- just can’t walk out on them for some reason.

      • Stin

        Well put. I love the game. And always thought I’d be the last to turn my back on rugby but I’m close.

  • Brumby Runner

    To my eye, there was a clear knock on by the Tahs in the first or second phase of play that led them to their first try, and that was back around half way. Had it been called, the early pressure on the tryline might not have eventuated and Fardy might not have been carded. I also thought he was carded after a team warning, so it might be slightly inaccurate to say that he has an enthusiasm for the sin bin.

    Given the conditions, I was more than satisfied with the way the Brumbies went about their game and they quite comfortably finished on top. Some of the lesser expected standout contributions came from Ben Alexander back at LH prop where he was especially strong in the scrum against the incumbent Wallaby TH prop; Sam Carter at the lineout where his calling was on the mark the whole game; Scott Fardy put in the best 80 (sorry 70) minutes of No 6 play seen in an Aus side for a long time, Jordan Smiler whose involvements at No 8 have been very strong and full of running for the whole game; Joe Powell who had much more influence on the game than Nick Phipps while he was on; and Henry Speight who has been written off by many posters but who put in a proper MOTM performance with his running, try scoring and involvements at the breakdown.

  • Dally M

    Stupid errors and stupid penalties are killing the Waratahs.

    How many tries against them have come on the back of a mistake? I’d wager it’s over 90%.

    There needs to be some hard decisions made on selections this week.

  • idiot savant

    The player who caught my eye was Smiler. Hes gone up a level from last season. Works hard and is a smart footballer.

    The other thing that stood out for me were the Brumbies props, all 4 of them. Until the Reds came up against the Lions, I was thinking how we might now be building some depth at prop across our super rugby sides. Now after the performance of the Tahs and Reds scrum on the weekend, I’m thinking that depth is a bit shallower! I still like the Force and Brumbies props though I think the Lions pack will bring every side back to earth. Literally.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    I went to the game with a mate from the US. Not the best intro to rugby but he did enjoy Speights first try. I watched the Canes vs Highlanders today and I have to say that the individual skill level in NZ is way above what I saw at that game.
    On the positive side I thought both Speight and Kuridrani played well and I think both should be planning a gold jersey if they keep it up. Kuridrani was very good in defence and I think he ties up that part of his game well. I loved the intensity and there was some great hits which my USA mate loved. I thought Canberra played smarter rugby than the Tahs and that hit them through in the end.

  • BF

    There needs to be a serious overhaul at the waratahs (and for some odd reason, cheika bases the wallabies from the waratahs).

    Kepu might be a good ball running prop, but can’t scrumamge
    Robertson – the scrum doctor????? he got smashed against the French, and again in Super Rugby
    Skelton – every smart rugby team nullify his bulk quite easily
    Mumm – contrary to what Phil Kearns says, he’s not the best set piece forward in Australia – lost 4 lineouts. cheika picks him at 6, can’t defend like Fardy, can’t be a breakdown threat like Fardy, so we lose players like Fardy overseas,
    Hooper – he’s like a dog chasing seagulls on the beach. runs around doing nothing, (Interesting press conference, the body language between hooper and Gibson indicates not all is well between the 2)
    the other back-row is not good enough to compensate for skelton’s lack of set piece options and hoopers lack of “real” involvement
    phipps – plain and simple, he’s awful, an embarressment
    foley isn’t the saviour everyone makes him out to be. under pressure he gets deep and narrow
    he other backs – I can”t remember hearing their names throughout the game

  • Ulrich

    What happens if either of these teams are indeed dropped. Will the Vickerman trophy be contested at NRC level?

ACT Brumbies

Too small for the pack too slow for the backs - the exception that makes the rule that rugby is a game for all sizes. Qld bred rugby fan with an eye on South Africa.

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