The Brumbies have got out of jail with a two-point win against a much improved Waratahs side 24-22 at the SCG tonight. After a tough week for the Waratahs following the sacking of Rob Penney, the scoreboard might show they lost the game but they showed much improvement as their second half efforts reeled in a 24-10 half time deficit before late drama.
The Brumbies back three trio of Tom Banks, Tom Wright and Andy Muirhead had first half tries alongside Folau Fainga’a before the Waratahs fought back in the second half with tries to Will Harrison and James Ramm after full time siren but a Will Harrison conversion attempt to send it to super time was away to the left to see the Brumbies hang on for a tense 24-22 win.
Jake Gordon’s return for the Waratahs was instrumental in their display and he seemed to take the pressure off Will Harrison and allow the backs some freedom with Izaia Perse also having a good outing as part of a whole better showing from his side.
The Waratahs will rue handling an execution errors on the line with Dave Porecki’s example just one that got away and proved the final difference in the end.
Tom Banks opened the scoring for the Brumbies in just the fourth minute as he waltzed his way past four Waratahs defenders from long range for a cracking opening try.
There were signs of life from the Waratahs after some tight play and handling down the left wing then a kick and chase into the in goal from Alex Newsome but he was beaten to the ball by Nic White.
They went desperately close again shortly after as Dave Porecki was reaching out to score but the ball was dislodged by Pete Samu .
To add insult to injury, the Waratahs kicked the ball dead after the Brumbies escaped their in-goal and from the resulting scrum conceded a penalty in their own half. After some build up phases, the ball found its way to Tom Wright on the right wing and he evaded the defence with only metres to work with and score in his first game back from injury to make it 10-0.
A penalty goal from Will Harrison sparked the Waratahs into action as they enjoyed the next passages with some encouraging play to get into the Brumbies half. A quick tap from Jake Gordon had the Brumbies on the back foot in their own 22, and Harry Johnson-Holmes had his name on the try scorers list after burrowing over from close range and level the scores.
It would be the Brumbies who would add to their score next as their clear tactic of getting the ball wide starting to open up the Waratahs defence in the wide channels and Andy Muirhead capped off a top week to add a try to his Wallabies training squad inclusion.
The Waratahs discipline gave up back-to-back penalties to get the Brumbies up the field into prime attacking zone and after seeing the back three get over the line, the forwards kept it tight and Folau Fainga’a rolled it over to score and remind Dave Rennie that he can fire up after being excluded from the Wallabies training squad.
The Waratahs had their chance to hit back just before the break but again it was handling that brought them undone as they went to the sheds at 24-10.
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Early in the second half both sides had chances to put pressure on but a lack of execution in key areas with an errant Waratahs lineout getting the Brumbies out of trouble.
The Waratahs got a leg up as Tom Cusack copped a yellow car for repeated infringements, but they couldn’t capitalise on his ten minutes in the bin as Dan McKellar rung the changes in the forwards with Samu, Fainga’a, Nick Frost and Nic White taking a rest.
Tom Wright went within inches of scoring his second of the night but his right knee went touch in goal before he could get the ball down after chasing down a grubber kick.
As the half wore on, the Waratahs had the Brumbies making the bulk of the tackles but it was the little things keeping them from adding more points but it was a stroke of luck off a charge down on Ryan Lonergan to see Will Harrison score under the sticks and make it a seven point margin with 15 minutes remaining.
With time running down, the Waratahs had the Brumbies under the pump after Rory Scott was the second Brumbies player to the bin but a knock on at the back of a ruck with the line begging let them off.
But there would be late, late drama as Tom Cusack copped his second yellow card via the TMO of the game to leave the Brumbies exposed and the Waratahs exploited the space down the left as James Ramm scored after the siren.
It all came down to Will Harrison but his attempt to send it to super time was wide and the Brumbies got out of jail and make it eight wins in a row against the Waratahs.
The Game Changer
The second half from the Waratahs as they reeled back a 14-point margin and went within a whisker of sending it to super time and may have pulled off a dramatic win as they had all the momentum.
The G&GR MOTM
Jake Gordon – His side might have lost, but his return was important for the Waratahs and even went close to scoring right at the death and his combination with Harrison allowed a far more confident game from Harrison and the team overall.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Johnson-Holmes, Harrison, Ramm
Conversions: Harrison 2
Tries: Banks, Wright, Muirhead, Fainga’a
Conversions: Lolesio 2
46 mins – Cusack (Brumbies) – Yellow
75 mins – Scott (Brumbies) -Yellow
80 mins – Cusack (Brumbies) – 2nd yellow