The Brumbies clinched an entertaining Australian derby in Canberra thanks to a 32-15 win over the Waratahs on Friday.
Australia’s best two sides produced a typical contest with plenty of edge, and one which often boiled over in front of a crowd of 20,000 plus.
The Brumbies win, and no losing bonus point for the Waratahs, means Stephen Larkham’s men take an early advantage in the Australian Conference as they ended a four-game losing run against their old rivals.
Both sides went into half-time tied up at 8-8 despite the Waratahs losing each of their locks to yellow cards in the opening 40 minutes – with Christian Lealiifano and Israel Folau both getting over the line.
Joe Tomane and Nick Phipps crossed for their respective sides after the break in a tight contest until the Brumbies’ penalty try off their dominant scrum secured the result, with Nigel Ah Wong’s late try capping off the victory.
The Brumbies started fast through a Lealiifano penalty in the second minute after the Waratahs illegally tried to stop the maul and not long after matters got worse for the visitors.
Will Skelton was sent to the bin for a high tackle as poor discipline from the Waratahs allowed the Brumbies to march back up the field and put themselves in position for the first try.
Sending the ball wide Lealiifano’s footwork was too much for Tatafu Polota-Nau to handle as the fly-half went over in the corner.
Lealiifano couldn’t add the conversion as the Waratahs gradually worked their way back into the contest, welcoming back Skelton before they notched up their first try.
Given to Folau with a standing start the full-back set off on an arcing run, fixing up the defence as Aidan Toua failed to come in off the wing to stop him allowing Folau to breeze over.
The Waratahs were back down to 14 men though not long after having once again been penalised trying to stop the Brumbies thundering maul. This time it was Dean Mumm on his 100th provinicial game who headed to the sidelines for ten minutes.
Despite that Kurtley Beale knocked over a first penalty after a high hit on Matt Carraro to tie it up at 8-8, which was how it remained going into half-time.
A scrappy start to the second half ended when Lealiifano put the Brumbies back ahead at 11-8 with a penalty, before the latest scrap off the ball left Matt Toomua needing treatment for a suspected broken nose.
Toomua’s team-mates however had the last laugh as Joe Tomane raced over having broken a couple of tackles on a burst up the short side for the Brumbies’ second try.
Credit to the Waratahs however for immediately responding off the lineout – quick ball releasing Folau up the middle through a gap before he offloaded to scrum-half Nick Phipps for their second try.
Somewhat stunned by that reply the Brumbies turned to the power of their set-piece, and from short range the scrum was just too destructive, forcing referee Marius van der Westhuizen to award a penalty try.
Beale looked to have hit back for the ‘Tahs when he scurried over but the score was wiped off by the TMO for obstruction by Lousi to the disbelief of the visitors.
Desperate to take at least something back to Sydney the Waratahs did their best to try and secure a losing bonus point.
However instead a loose lineout allowed the Brumbies to counter, Tomane’s inside ball setting up replacement Ah Wong to score the Brumbies’ fourth try and put some gloss on a crucial win.