Wallabies lose in Aussie arm-wrestle
Wallabies lose in Aussie arm-wrestleSHARE
It was a horror day for Wallaby coach Robbie Deans, as he watched the Waratahs and Brumbies smash each other to a pulp in Sydney on Saturday.
The Waratahs opened up the Super Rugby title race with a fighting 28-22 win over the Brumbies in a fierce Australian derby that may have serious ramifications for the Wallabies.
On the eve of the announcement of the first Wallaby squad, ahead of the Test series against the British and Irish Lions, Deans saw a number of leading candidates limp off with injuries.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, lock Kane Douglas, loose forward George Smith, as well as midfielders Pat McCabe and Rob Horne all headed for the casualty ward in a war of attrition.
Polota-Nau trudged off the field with a fractured arm in the first half, which is certain to rule him out of the series against B&I Lions – the first Test just over a month away on June 22.
Deans' go-to No.12 Pat McCabe was forced off with a suspected left knee injury.
Horne, an outside chance for inclusion, didn't come back after the half-time break.
The in-form veteran openside flank, Smith, left in the second half with a leg injury.
Smith, who is on the verge of a remarkable comeback after playing the last of his 110 Tests four years ago, sat on the sidelines watching the remainder of the game with his left knee wrapped in an ice pack.
Douglas was taken from the field very early, after being knocked out cold and then stumbling around like a new-born baby giraffe when he eventually attempted to get back to his feet.
These injuries will be of major concern to Deans, who names a 25-man Wallaby squad on Sunday.
The Waratahs fought back from being 6-13 down at half-time to overhaul Jake White's Brumbies with three second-half tries to keep alive their play-off hopes with their third straight win.
"That was really pleasing," Waratahs captain Dave Dennis said.
"We were off in a few areas, getting out of our own half and struggling in the line-outs, but to have that go on and still win the match is pleasing and we are developing a winning attitude," the Tahs skipper added.
"The Brumbies and us lost a few key players and that probably upset their rhythm a bit, but it was always going to be physical, so you are going to get those injuries."
Brumbies skipper Mowen said Berrick Barnes was the difference after half-time.
"The game needed someone to grab it by the scruff of its neck and go on with it and Berrick did that superbly for the Waratahs," Mowen said.
"He controlled things well in that period, put them on the front foot and scored a great individual try and Betham on the back of that closed it out with his try."