The Brumbies have jumped back to the top of the Super Rugby AU ladder after a 38-11 bonus point win over the Waratahs in Canberra to make it 6 wins in a row against their fierce rivals.
After a week of banter from Brumbies coach Dan McKellar, it was his players who did the talking tonight to end the ‘World Beating’ Waratahs streak at 2 games.
The match was evenly poised at 12-11 to the Brumbies at half time before the Brumbies took control in the second half and scored 26 points to nil in the 6 tries to 1 win with doubles to Tom Wright and Pete Samu led the Brumbies and the return of Nic White instrumental in the second half dominance.
With the conditions not favouring free flowing play early on as the sleet rolled in, both sets of forwards were in for a mountain of work and it was the Waratahs pack with the early points as they had all the territory and possession.
The Waratahs had an early statement of intent as they declined an early shot at penalty goal from a handy position and almost scored the opening try from the resulting lineout after 8 minutes, but Jack Dempsey knocked the ball on just before the try line.
The Brumbies were the first team on the board through a (let’s call it contentious) try to Ryan Lonergan with replays showing he was well in front of the kicker and even after a look from the TMO, was awarded the try with it deemed not clear and obvious.
Will Harrison got the Waratahs on the board with a penalty goal 5 minutes later, but it would be the Brumbies who would score next. The Waratahs did well to defend the maul 5 metres out but were then caught out wide with a brilliant cross field kick from Bayley Kuenzle with a perfect bounce for Andy Muirhead to dive over in the corner and a 12-3 lead after 25 minutes.
Another penalty from Harrison got the Waratahs back in the game as they enjoyed some better field position towards the back end of the half and they were rewarded with a well worked try down the left wing as Tom Horton found Jack Dempsey and he wouldn’t be denied a try this time to make it a 1 point game to the Brumbies at half-time.
The Brumbies started off the second half with a scrum penalty and from that launched a kick into the Waratahs 22 but instead of the usual rolling maul they worked it patiently until Irae Simone floated a pass out to Pete Samu on the left wing who got through one tackle to score the Brumbies third try of the night. Lonergan’s conversion made it an 8-point game.
Nic White came on at the 50-minute mark and made an immediate impact as his wide pass found the newly re-signed Tom Wright on the left wing and he reached out to score and Kuenzle’s conversion from the sideline made it 26-11.
Wright had his second 5 minutes later as man-of-the-match Simone found him again with a brilliant pass down the left wing again as the Waratahs set piece defence let them down with the game starting to get away from them.
Samu was lurking on the right wing and he scored a second as he evaded a number of would be tacklers to score his second try of the night with the TMO unable to find clear and obvious evidence of him touching the sideline. Keunzle’s sideline conversion added icing to the cake as the Brumbies ran out 38-11 winners and send a reminder that they are still in with a shot of claiming the Super Rugby AU title.
The Game Changer
Lucky it wasn’t the Lonergan try but the second half display from the Brumbies with 3 tries in 12 minutes and 4 in total too much for the Waratahs to overcome.
The G&GR MOTM
Irae Simone – With the absence of Noah Lolesio, he’s had to step up and take the pressure of Bayley Kuenzle and his second play making option has been a real bonus, along with his passing game tonight.
Dave Rennie must have a tough task updating his PONI list on a weekly basis, but he would have liked what he saw tonight with both number 8’s Jack Dempsey and Pete Samu getting on the try scorer list and some nice Keiran Read-esque wide play. Irae Simone might not be on Rennie’s radar but he gave him some food for thought tonight. Michael Hooper played his heart out, as usual, for the Waratahs but couldn’t do it all himself tonight.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Wright 2, Samu 2, Lonergan, Muirhead
Conversions: Lonergan 2, Kuenzle 2
Penalties: Harrison 2