Planet Rugby

Waratahs wrap up play-off berth

28th June 2014 12:05

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Playmaker: Bernard Foley

The Waratahs secured their status as Australian Conference winners and will end the weekend atop the overall Super Rugby standings with a bonus-point 39-8 victory over the Brumbies in Sydney.

A quick-fire double from Benn Robinson and Alofa Alofa sent the hosts racing into a 14-0 lead early on, before Jesse Mogg gave the Brumbies hope by out-jumping Israel Folau for a super finish.

But further tries after the break from Alofa, Bernard Foley - who finished with 19 points - and Wycliff Palu ensured the scoreline took on a rather one-sided appearance.

It was a hard-fought first fifteen minutes, with little to separate two teams intent on inflicting maximum pain on each other in contact and at the breakdown, Tevita Kuridrani knocked-out by a typically monstrous Palu charge, and taken for a Head Injury Assessment before being replaced by Rodney Iona.

The opening points came from an unlikely source for the hosts, as the instantly recognisable squat, scrum cap-clad figure of Robinson burrowed his way over from close range after a good break from Foley, who converted.

The Brumbies are ravaged by injury, and the lack of familiarity along the backline, especially minus Kuridrani, told just two minutes after the prop's try, winger Alofa intercepting a pass from Iona - making his first Super Rugby appearance - and cantering clear for a 14-0 advantage with Foley's conversion.

The uncoordinated nature of the visitors' lineup was telling, but it was the uninitiated stand-in hooker Ruadhri Murphy - a prop by trade - forced to play his first game in his new position with injury sidelining Stephen Moore and Josh Mann-Rea who struggled to get to grips with his set-piece duties.

Much to the full-back's delight, Mogg went one-up on Wallabies rival Folau with a brilliant and indeed improbable take and dot-down from a Christian Lealiifano cross-kick over the top of the cross-code international. The conversion was missed, but the Brumbies had fired a warning shot across the bow of their rivals.

Indeed, the visitors were acquitting themselves well, and had stifled the early verve and dynamism from the Waratahs that shot them into the lead. The first half petered out with the same levels of aggression and abrasiveness, but no more points were scored, a nasty injury to home skipper Dave Dennis the only event worthy of note as the teams headed for the changing rooms at 14-5.

Foley and Lealiifano traded penalties shortly after the break, and Folau almost made the line under remarkable circumstances when he powered up to the whitewash carrying four Brumbies, only to be held up.

Steve Walsh was losing patience as the visitors continued to slow things down as best they could at the breakdown in an attempt to nullify the dangerous Waratahs outside backs, and it was Fotu Auelua who saw yellow after yet another infringement.

From the resultant penalty, the home pack drove up to the line, and Foley strolled over with embarrassing ease as the Brumbies defenders focused on the runners behind him. He made no mistake with the conversion from straight in front, and that wrapped things up for the 'Tahs just after the hour mark.

Rob Horne butchered what would have been the bonus-point try by failing to put Nick Phipps away after a strong run up the left-hand touchline, but it arrived shortly after when Alofa was sent racing in at corner after Folau had drawn in Mogg. Foley landed a brilliant conversion from the touchline.

The fly-half knocked over another penalty as the clock ran down, and though the Brumbies battled bravely to restore a modicum of pride, their efforts were to be in vain as Palu rounded off a brilliant team effort.

The scorers:

For Waratahs:
Tries: Robinson, Alofa 2, Foley, Palu
Cons: Foley 4
Pens: Foley 2

For Brumbies:
Try: Mogg
Pen: Lealiifano
Yellow card: Auelua (persistent infringing)

The teams:

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (c), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Jacques Potgieter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 24 Cam Crawford.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Leon Power, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Ruaidhri Murphy, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Jack Whetton, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Clyde Rathbone, 23 Lionel Cronje.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
Television match official: Peter Marshall (Australia)

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