VIDEO: Brumbies continue winning streak over Tahs
SUPER RUGBY AU MATCH REPORT: The Brumbies extended their two-year winning record over the Waratahs with a hard-earned 24-23 victory in a thrilling match in Sydney on Saturday.
The Brumbies’ fifth-consecutive triumph over the Tahs came courtesy of a late Issak Fines try, converted by Bayley Kuenzle – which saw the visitors outscore their hosts by four tries to two.
Discipline, or rather the lack of it, was the Brumbies’ biggest problem.
* Did you miss the action? Recap all the drama HERE!
The Waratahs looked set to claim their first victory in five outings against Australia’s 2018 and 2019 conference winners, only to concede a try minutes from full-time.
Replacement scrumhalf Issak Fines’ late match-winner also extended the Brumbies’ winning streak to six matches over Australian opposition stretching back to a loss to the Reds in March last year.
It was also extremely cruel on Rob Penney’s rebuilding Waratahs, who dominated for much of the match on Saturday night having been humbled 47-14 by the Brumbies in the very last game before Super Rugby was suspended in March because of Coronavirus.
But the Tahs paid dearly for conceding two tries in three minutes just before half-time, after opening up a 20-5 lead.
“Very disappointing that,” said Waratahs captain Rob Simmons.
“I think as a forward pack we really fronted up, stopped that maul, they got through there once which was disappointing and we led most of that game until the end there. That’s what footy is; winning those pressure moments. We let one slip and that’s what happens.”
Despite the defeat, classy young flyhalf Will Harrison and NSW’s new-look front row of returning Wallaby Tom Robertson, starting debutant Tom Horton and Harry Johnson-Holmes were the standouts.
Earmarked as potentially the Wallabies’ next No.10, Harrison set up a beautiful try for wing James Ramm and slotted three penalties and two conversions for a 13-point personal haul.
His head-to-head tussle with fellow former Australian Under-20 star Noah Lolesio only lasted half an hour before Lolesio limped off with a hamstring injury.
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The Waratahs suffered a blow even before kick-off, with reserve prop Angus Bell ruled out after hurting his back in the warm-up.
It was a tough blow for the Brumbies, who only 15 minutes earlier lost Wallabies prop James Slipper after he failed a HIA.
The visitors had a ready made replacement in Test star Scott Sio but it didn’t stop NSW’s new-look front row from dominating at scrum time.
The Brumbies turned down a gift three points early, opting against taking a penalty goal attempt from right in front and the gamble paid off.
Instead Tom Cusack opened the scoring with a try in the fifth minute after Harrison spilt Lolesio’s cross-field bomb straight into the flank’s arms.
Harrison atoned with two penalties to edge the Waratahs ahead 6-5 as the home team gained the ascendancy.
Enjoying all the momentum and with the Brumbies down to 14 men after wing Andy Muirhead was yellow-carded for a deliberate offside trying to thwart an attacking raid, the Tahs extended their advantage when hooker Horton marked his starting debut with a five-pointer from the back of a driving maul.
Harrison’s inch-perfect kick for Ramm earned the Waratahs their second try and suddenly the underdogs had a 15-point buffer after 29 minutes.
The Brumbies predicament threatened to go from bad to worse when Lolesio departed but instead of losing their way, they clawed their way back into the contest with two tries in three minutes to hooker Folau Fainga’a and flank Robbie Valentin to trail by just three points at the break.
Man of the match: Jack Maddocks, Karmichael Hunt and Tom Horton were all impressive for the hosts, with Rob Simmons and Tom Robertson the pick among the forwards. Pete Samu, Thomas Cusack and Rob Valetini had massive workrates for the Brumbies. Thomas Banks and Andy Muirhead made some impressive metres with the ball in hand. Despite the combination of Issak Fines (try) and Bayley Kuenzle (conversion) securing the late winner, our award goes to Brumbies centre Irae Simone – with some impressive run-metres and a match-high 15 tackles.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Ramm, Horton
Cons: Harrison 2
Pens: Harrison 3
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Cusack, Fainga’a, Valetini, Fines
Cons: Kuenzle 2
Yellow card: Andy Muirhead (Brumbies, 21 – repeated infringements, offside)
Waratahs: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Angus Bell, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Will Harris, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 23 Ben Donaldson.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Lachlan McCaffrey, 20 Will Miller, 21 Issak Fines, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, Reuben Keane
TMO: James Leckie