The Brumbies travelled to Sydney on Saturday only to be demolished by the Waratahs, who recorded a dominant 39-8 victory at ANZ stadium. The bonus point victory moves the Waratahs to top of the ladder and relegated the Brumbies to sixth place on the ladder.
Much was said in the lead up to this game about redemption for the Waratahs, who put in a poor performance against the Brumbies earlier in the season. Whatever Michael Cheika said pre-game obviously worked, as the Tahs opened the game with ferociously quick defensive lines and a few probing runs around the try line.
The first thirty minutes was a tense arm-wrestle. Benn Robinson opened the try-scoring, with Alofa Alofa intercepting a wayward pass shortly afterwards to give the Tahs a 14-0 lead. A late try in the first half to an acrobatic Jesse Mogg, meant that the score was 14-5 half-time. Captain Dave Dennis had to be taken off the field with a ruptured ACL, and whilst this is a major blow for the team, Michael Hooper took over the captaincy seamlessly. Whilst the score was tight at the break, there was a sense that the Waratahs were on a mission and no-one could stop them, the second half definitely proved that to be correct.
Both teams traded penalty goals at the start of second half, but the Waratahs depth allowed for difference makers to be injected into the game from the 50th minute. The addition of Will Skelton and Paddy Ryan added more steel to an already dominant Waratahs pack, and when the Brumbies lost a man to the sin-bin for constnat infringements at the breakdown, the Waratahs pounced with Bernard Foley crossing for a try in the 60th minute. This completely deflated the Brumbies and it showed as the Tahs dominated proceedings, scoring two more tries, with Alofa Alofa crossing in the 68th minute and Wycliff Palu crossing just before full-time.
The win means that the Waratahs have clinched the Australian conference with two games to play and if they can beat the Highlanders next week, then they are in pole position to finish the season in first place.
As always, we take a look at five key points in the game:
1. Boreumbies: Yes that pun was terrible, but it was nowhere near as bad as the Brumbies performance last night. They were missing key players, but that isn't an excuse for playing boring rugby without any purpose. They were constantly cynical at the breakdown, and never looked to do anything with the ball. They try to play a South African style but lacked all the necessary structure and grit. As much as I like watching the Brumbies lose, it was sad.
2. Wycliff Palu: Continued his great Wallabies form with another strong performance, dominant running and great in defence. Will be vital to the Waratahs finals hopes.
3. Defence: The Waratahs were ferocious in defence for 80 minutes, for too many years the Tahs have been prone to stupid defensive lapses in important games. A nice change.
4. Forward Dominance: The entire tahs forwad pack were tremendous tonight. Strong set-pieces and set a great platform.
5. Bernad Foley: The only thing more striking than his performance was his moustache. Great to see him confident after a decent international series.