The Waratahs continued with their impressive recent form when they secured a 24-17 win over the Brumbies in their Australian derby in Canberra on Saturday.
In a tightly contested battle, the Waratahs outscored their hosts two tries to one with Taqele Naiyaravoro scoring both the visitors’ five-pointers and the result means the men from Sydney end a three-match losing streak against the Brumbies.
The victory moves the Waratahs above the Reds into second position on the Australian Conference table while the Brumbies are still in fourth place. All three sides have played five matches so far – one less than the Rebels, who are at the top of the standings.
The match started on an even keel and the sides were deadlocked at 3-3 by the 10th minute after Bernard Foley and Wharenui Hawera traded penalties. However, the Waratahs suffered a major setback in the fourth minute when Israel Folau was forced off the field with a hamstring injury.
Both teams added a penalty apiece during the next 15 minutes which meant they were level at 6-6, although the Waratahs should have held a 12-6 lead but Foley was off target with two further shots at goal.
The game came alive in the 26th minute when Hawera spotted a gap behind the Waratahs’ defence and stabbed a perfectly-weighted grubber kick through which Lausii Taliauli gathered before dotting down.
Hawera’s conversion attempt was wide of the mark which meant the home side led 11-6 but just before half-time Naiyaravoro found himself in space close to the halfway line and rounded Henry Speight before racing away to score his side’s first try.
Foley did well to convert from close to the touchline which meant the match was evenly poised with the Waratahs leading 13-11 at the interval.
The visitors made a terrific start to the second half and, shortly after the restart, Foley and Kurtley Beale combined brilliantly to create space for Alex Newsome. The replacement back was soon deep inside the Brumbies’ 22 and did well to throw an inside pass to Naiyaravoro, who crossed for his second try.
Five minutes later, Hawera narrowed the gap when he landed a penalty after Rob Simmons was blown up for an indiscretion at a lineout. But the Waratahs had the bulk of the possession during the rest of the half and in the 64th minute Foley landed another penalty after Richie Arnold was blown up for a dangerous tackle.
The Brumbies tried desperately to haul in their visitors but, although Hawera added another penalty in the 71st minute, the Waratahs cancelled that effort out when Foley slotted his fourth penalty in the game’s closing stages.
For Brumbies: 17
Pens: Hawera 4
For Waratahs: 24
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 (c), 6 Michael Wells, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 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)