FULL TIME: The Brumbies hold on in Canberra.
The Brumbies notched a much-needed 19-13 win over the Waratahs on Friday night but they were again left with some big-name injury concerns.
With Wallabies David Pocock and Allan Alaalatoa both on the sidelines already, the sight of Scott Sio going off in the 43rd minute cradling a troublesome shoulder was a sight no Canberra fans would have enjoyed.
An arguably worse moment came 10 minutes later, though, as luckless backrower Rob Valetini, who only this morning announced a new contract, hobbled off the field with a knee issue.
Valetini has been among the highest-rated young talents in recent years, even included as a development player on the 2018 Spring Tour, but injuries have curtailed his career.
A nine-day turnaround until their round six match will be a blessing for the wounded side and a win on top of brought some welcome competition points for the Brumbies.
It was the Waratahs who for on the score sheet first after Michael Hooper pounced on a Bernard Foley penalty that hit the posts.
Hooper leaped up to catch the ball after Foley’s shot deflected off the sticks and he withstood contact from Lochie McCaffrey and Tom Banks to crash over the line in just the fourth minute.
The inability to hang onto Hooper was possibly the only poor thing McCaffrey did all night, in a monstrous performance at no. 8.
It took the Brumbies just one crack off their lineout to score through Folau Faingaa, albeit this time the hooker was on the end of a string of passes that began in the lineout rathe than pushing the maul over, handing the hosts the lead in the 14th minute.
The Brumbies their scrum to create another opportunity and only a desperate effort from Ned Hanigan stopped Lausi Taliauli from scooping up a clever grubber and scoring a near-certain try.
It was the Canberrans with all the momentum after a frenetic start from the Waratahs, with the sides barely venturing into the Waratahs attacking zone after that early try.
And the next time the Brumbies found themselves in scoring range Faingaa finished off a superb rolling maul to score his sixth of the season.
The Waratahs looked to their superstar backline to create some magic and a super Adam Ashley-Cooper pass set up a break for Kurtley Beale before Alex Newsome got his hands on it the Brumbies forced a penalty close to the line and that opportunity ended.
Just as the Waratahs began to build some momentum, a brain snap from Sekope Kepu turned things on their head with the tighthead prop sent to the bin for a dangerous cleanout on McCaffrey.
It was the Waratahs with the first score of the second half, almost nine minutes down, with some edge-to-edge work, including a slick ball from Israel Folau, putting Alex Newsome over.
The Brumbies replied less than five minutes later with a penalty try off another maul, with Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes sent to the bin as a result.
Foley managed to narrow the margin to less than a converted try in the 64th minute with a penalty, the only score from either side during Johnson-Holmes’ binning and the first Waratahs reward from a scrum.
It looked like the Brumbies had finally ignited their attacking fire in the 77th minute, with McCaffrey slipping through a Nick Phipps tackle attempt, throwing the ball on the boot and into space for youngster Mack Hansen to run onto.
While Hansen couldn’t quite beat out Waratahs winger Alex Newsome, a favourable bounce landed right in front of replacement halfback Ryan Lonergan and the former Junior Wallabies captain duly pounced, but the TMO called a knock-on and it was back to a defensive scrum.
Appropriately, it was a Brumbies scrum that ended the game, with Christian Lealiifano eventually kicking into touch to seal the win, a moment reflective of the dominance upon which they built their game all night.
The Waratahs have some work to do before they take on the toughest Super Rugby test of all next week against the Crusaders at the SCG while the Brumbies are in another Aussie derby, taking on the Reds.
Tries: Faingaa 2, Penalty
Tries: Hooper, Newsome
Yellow Cards: Kepu (35’), Harry Johnson-Holmes (54’)