Waratahs edge Aussie snorefest
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Waratahs put their campaign firmly back on track with a hard-earned 24-17 win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
The visitors outscored their hosts by two tries to one, with burly wing Taqele Naiyaravoro scoring the Waratahs' tries.
However, the real concern will be the hamstring injury suffered by utility back Israel Folau - who left the field after just five minutes.
If Folau is forced into a lengthy lay-off, it will be a major blow for the Waratahs - who have exploited his aerial skills in impressive fashion in recent weeks.
Though it is unclear exactly how severe the injury is, any absence would be a setback for the Waratahs, who face the Sunwolves, Reds and Lions in the next three weeks.
It was penalty central early, the sides traded three-pointers in the first 20 minutes, and only Bernard Foley's 50 percent return, the beginning of a very patchy match for the Waratahs 10 in front of goal, kept the Brumbies on level pegging.
Brumbies wing Lausi Taliuali changed all that in the 26th minute, pouncing on a grubber kick in the corner to score the first try and that looked like being the only five-pointer, in a sloppy contest at GIO Stadium.
Naiyaravoro found his first opportunity for impact just shy of half-time, breaking away from the Brumbies defenders to score a long-range try and put the Waratahs in front at the break.
The mammoth wing bookended the half finishing a spectacular Alex Newsome run, collecting an inside ball from the replacement wing and crossing the line.
Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale tried to create some magic for the Waratahs, but the visitors couldn't penetrate the Brumbies' defence at times.
A high tackle from Richie Arnold gave Foley a chance to extend the Waratahs' lead midway through the second half as they eked out some breathing space.
The second half descended into an arm wrestle, as the Waratahs struggled to stick their passes and the Brumbies battled to string any phases together.
There was little of the attacking brilliance the Waratahs showed against the Rebels a fortnight ago, with the forwards taking centre stage as the clock ticked down.
David Pocock made it through his return match unscathed, though he was no game changer, and was arguably bested by his opposite number in Michael Hooper.
A Pocock pilfer looked like it could be match-turning with five minutes to go, but the Waratahs won a scrum penalty to seal the win off Foley's boot.
The Brumbies won a penalty after full-time for one last crack at the line, but even their set piece couldn't conjure a miracle.
The Brumbies host the Reds in Canberra next weekend, in what now shapes as a make-or-break game, while the Waratahs travel to Japan to take on the Sunwolves.
Man of the match: David Pocock shaded his duel with Michael Hooper. Bernard Foley did well in controlling the game. But in a dour affair two-try Waratahs wing Taqele Naiyaravoro gets our award.
For the Brumbies:
Pens: Hawera 4
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Naiyaravoro 2
Pens: Foley 4
Brumbies: 15 Andy Muirhead, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Lausii Taliauli, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga'a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Mees Erasmus, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Tom Banks.
Waratahs: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hannigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Will Miller, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Alex Newsome.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nicholas Berry (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)