Waratahs put down big marker
PRE-SEASON REPORT: The Waratahs put down a big marker when they beat the Brumbies 53-17 in their Super Rugby pre-season outing in Mudgee on Saturday.
It was all the Brumbies in the opening exchanges as the visitors stormed onto the offensive, forcing the Waratahs onto the back foot for large swathes of the opening third.
Against the run of play the Waratahs took the lead with the opening try of the contest in the 22nd minute.
It owed much to the quick-thinking of scrumhalf Jake Gordon whose tap penalty and kick through for Harry Jones created panic in the Brumbies defence.
The ball eluded the flying wing but the Brumbies were forced to take it into touch and, from the resultant line-out, the Waratahs worked flank Jake Dempsey over from close range.
Bryce Hegarty missed the conversion but was successful moments later as he bisected the uprights from a second conversion attempt after a tremendous score. Dempsey played a major part as the ball was switched from left to right and back again allowing Gordon to run under the posts.
The Brumbies needed a response and they got one almost immediately from a line-out. A drive towards the line saw the ball recycled and Tomas Cubelli pick up, dummy and cruise over to run around and score behind the posts allowing Wharenui Hawera an easy conversion.
Leading 12-7 at the end of the first third the Waratahs struck early upon the resumption of play as centre Irae Simone kicked through for flying wing Reece Robinson who gathered the bouncing ball and streaked away from the covering defence to score.
The reply was immediate from the Brumbies as they reduced the deficit within minutes of the restart. Hawera kicked another penalty to touch and from the line-out the Brumbies initiated a rolling maul from which hooker Josh Mann-Rea squeezed over.
Unfortunately for the visiting team it was the Waratahs next on the scoreboard as fullback Hegarty danced past a couple of tackles to cross before replacement Andrew Kellaway found space out wide to cut inside his marker for a fifth home score of the match, shortly after the Brumbies had lost scrumhalf Cubelli to what looked like a nasty knee injury, his leg buckling after being tackled from behind.
Further tries from Matt Lucas and Irae Simone added gloss to the score as the Waratahs gave the majority of the 6,357 crowd plenty to cheer before a late consolation from Tom Banks, after excellent approach work from Joe Powell, reduced the deficit.
The Waratahs had the last word though as hooker Tolu Latu was driven over to round off an impressive showing.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Dempsey, Gordon, Robinson 2, Hegarty, Kellaway, Lucas, Simone, Latu
Cons: Hegarty 2, Deegan
For the Brumbies:
Tries:Cubelli, Mann-Rea, Thompson
Waratahs squad: Tom Robertson, Hugh Roach, David Lolohea, Ned Hanigan, Senio Toleafoa, Jack Dempsey, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells, Jake Gordon, Mack Mason, Harry Jones, David Horwitz, Irae Simone, Reece Robinson, Bryce Hegarty, Tolu Latu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Paddy Ryan, Sam Needs, David McDuling, Matt Lucas, Andrew Deegan, Andrew Kellaway, Ryan McCauley, Jamason Schultz, Con Foley, Maclean Jones.
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Lolo Fakaosilea, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Leslie Leulua'iali'i, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Nic Mayhew.
Replacements - from: Robbie Abel, Faalelei Sione, Ben Alexander, Blake Enever, Jordan Smiler, Joe Powell, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Tom Banks, Saia Fainga'a, Tom Staniforth, Tom Cusack, Ben Hyne, Isaac Thompson, Nigel Ah Wong, Andrew Smith, Andrew Muirhead.
Referee: William Houston (Australia)