Two tries in the final 16 minutes saw the 'Tahs come from behind to defeat the Brumbies 28-22 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
Two tries in the final 16 minutes saw the Waratahs come from behind to beat the Brumbies 28-22 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
The result will be music to the ears of Australian conference rivals the Reds as the standings now read Brumbies (46), Reds (44) and 'Tahs (38).
What won't sit well with Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans, however, is the news that Tatafu Polota-Nau suffered a fractured arm in the game.
That injury puts the hooker's participation in the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour in real doubt.
A well constructed score from the Brumbies was the highlight of a physical opening quarter in Sydney. Strong hit-ups from the likes of hooker Stephen Moore and number eight Ben Mowen created the space wide on the right for the visitors to stretch the defence. And from recycled ball it was captain Mowen on hand to crash over the whitewash with 20 minutes played in the match.
That score had followed a penalty apiece from Christian Lealiifano and Brendan McKibbin while the Brumbies continued to strive for territory.
It paid off too in the 35th minute when, following Matt Toomua's fine touch-finder, pressure was applied on the Waratahs in their 22. Drew Mitchell was the man to make the eventual mistake as his kick was charged down by Tevita Kuridrani, who regathered to touch down.
That score summed up a disappointing half for the Waratahs as they lost Kane Douglas in the first minute and then Polota-Nau. They had, however, posted another penalty on the half-hour when McKibbin was successful off the tee so the teams went into the break at 6-13.
Michael Cheika would have been pleased to see his side's performance lift on their return from the changing rooms as, from Brumbies replacement Pat McCabe being pinged for offside at a ruck, Wallaby Berrick Barnes had an opportunity to make it 9-13. Unfortunately for the home side though, Rob Horne's replacement struck the upright from distance.
The Waratahs wouldn't have to wait long to trouble the scorers though as Barnes' fluid distribution came to the fore, with space found on the left touchline for Michael Hooper to race over. Barnes was on-target this time to level matters as the Brumbies struggled.
Momentum was clearly with the Waratahs and when Kuridrani was sent to the sin-bin by referee Steve Walsh for hands in a ruck, the 'Tahs were ahead for the first time in the game.
Mogg would then hit back with three penalties but when Barnes backed his pace and went over on 64 minutes before Peter Betham sliced through with only six minutes remaining, the 'Tahs held a 28-22 lead which was how it stayed despite a late surge from the Brumbies.
Tries: Hooper, Barnes, Betham
Con: Barnes 2
Pen: McKibbin 2, Barnes
Tries: Mowen, Kuridrani
Pen: Lealiifano, Mogg 3
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (capt) 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Skelton, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Peter Betham.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Pat McCabe.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
Television match official: Peter Marshall (Australia)