Brumbies humiliate Waratahs
The Brumbies cemented their place at the top of the Super Rugby standings with a bonus-point (35-6) humiliation of the Waratahs on Saturday.
The Brumbies cemented their place at the top of the Super Rugby standings with a bonus-point (35-6) humiliation of the Waratahs in Canberra on Saturday.
The Brumbies have now scored a record sixth consecutive win against Australian opposition and maintained a unique record of not having conceded a single second-half point all season.
The big concern coming out of the match - for both the Brumbies and Wallabies - will be the leg injury that saw David Pocock limp off the field in the 13th minute. He was later spotted with an ice pack on the injured limb, with early reports suggesting he damaged the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee - which could rule him out for up to six months.
Waratahs hooker and fellow Wallaby Tatafu Polota-Nau followed him to the sideline after taking a bad blow to the upper leg.
It also didn't help the Waratahs that new fullback Ben Volavola failed to find touch - once from an attacking penalty - on occasions.
Added to those problems were the Waratahs' rickety set pieces, especially the line-outs, where they far too often turned over ball.
The Brumbies, in stark contrast, were far more clinical in everything they did.
Despite a high penalty count against them, the Brumbies still looked the best bet of the Australian teams to win a Super Rugby title this year.
Apart from their ability to soak up pressure through a sound defensive system, they do know how to turn opportunities into points.
The first penalty was not long in coming, Waratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau holding on in the tackle, and Christian Lealiifano made it 3-0 after just two minutes. Lealiifano made it 6-0 five minutes later, after the Waratahs were again penalised at the tackle, and 9-0 when the visitors went offside a minute later.
Brendan McKibbin finally opened the Waratahs' account in the 14th minute, after Ben Alexander was penalised at a scrum right in front of his own posts.
The penalty count continued to mount against both teams, but the Brumbies made theirs count when Ben Mowen got the opening try - the No.8 getting an armchair ride at the back of a powerful maul from five metres out. The conversion was wide - 14-3.
Going into the final 10 minutes a sublime piece of interplay between Jesse Mogg and Christian Lealiifano produced a great score. From a rugby Mogg attacked the line and put through a grubber and Lealiifano ran onto the ball as it sat up. The inside centre added the conversion - 21-3.
There was some positive news for the Tahs late in the half - when Brumbies lock Sam Carter was yellow carded for repeated infringements at the breakdown. Another penalty soon afterwards saw McKibbin reduce the gap by three points, 6-21 - which is how it stayed to the half-time break.
The Waratahs had chances early in the second half, but their set-piece woes continued to cause them major headaches. On at least two occasions they butchered line-outs five metres from the Brumbies' line.
With 10 minutes remaining the game was reduced to a 14-man-each-side contest - Waratahs prop Benn Robinson yellow carded for a professional foul at the breakdown and Brumbies rival Ben Alexander joining him in the naughty chair for stamping on his opponent at the same breakdown.
Soon afterwards Henry Speight put the game well and truly beyond the Tahs when he sprinted over in the left corner. The conversion made it 28-6 with six minutes left on the clock.
Robbie Coleman got the bonus-point try for the Brumbies, a score that started with Jesse Mogg running out of his own 22 and off-loading to Coleman - who collected his own chip-kick to race clear. Lealiifano completed the Waratahs' humiliation with the conversion - 35-6.
Man of the match: There were great performances from regulars like Ben Mowen, Henry Speight, Nic White and Stephen Moore. However, our award goes to Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg, for his peerless play at fullback and that first-half grubber that resulted in a try for Christian Lealiifano - who had a pretty good game himself.
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Mowen, Lealiifano, Speight, Coleman
Cons: Lealiifano 3
Pens: Lealiifano 3
For the Waratahs:
Pens: McKibbin 2
Yellow cards: Sam Carter (Brumbies, 38 - repeated infringements at the breakdown), Benn Robinson (Waratahs, 70 - professional foul, killing the ball), Ben Alexander (Brumbies, 70 - foul play, stamping)
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 David Pocock, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 George Smith, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Joe Tomane.
Waratahs: 15 Ben Volavola, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Greg Peterson, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Pat McCutcheon, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Lachie Turner.
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)