Tahs keep hopes alive
Brenden Nel
May 18, 2013

The Waratahs gave themselves a massive dose of hope and dented the Brumbies chances of finishing top of the Australian conference with a 28-22 win in their Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday.

A late try by winger Peter Benham proved to be the difference between the two sides in a hard-fought and entertaining contest, but one that was ultimately overshadowed by injury concerns ahead of the upcoming tour by the British and Irish Lions.

While the Waratahs were overjoyed with the win, they would have been dismayed by losing Tatafu Polota-Nau to a fractured arm during the game, while the Brumbies sit with the uncertainty of injuries to veterans George Smith, Pat McCabe and Christian Lealiifano after the game.

The massive injury toll was not what Wallaby coach Robbie Deans would have wanted ahead of the impending Lions series, and will test the Australian depth at this level.

Still, the Waratahs look like they can still sneak into the play-offs, and with their attacking prowess they will definitely be a threat to the other teams in the KO stages.

The Brumbies now have to contemplate being caught by the Reds, and will not be feeling as comfortable as they were a few weeks back where they had a clear dominance in the Australian conference.


Still, the early action was pretty even before the Brumbies made the first move, sending several phases of attack deep into Waratah territory before Ben Mowen powered his way over from close to the line.

Two penalties from Brendan McKibbin were the only answer the Waratahs had early on, as they frustrated themselves with a series of mistakes that cost them momentum at crucial times.

The Brumbies were rewarded for their pressure when Tevita Kuridrani charged down a poor clearance by Drew Mitchell, then pounced on the bouncing ball to put the Brumbies 13-6 up at the break.

The Waratahs needed to provide a comeback shortly after the break and six minutes in they found it through flanker Michael Hooper, who saw space on the outside and darted down the touchline to level matters.

Kuridrani was sent to the sin bin after trying to slow the ball down, frustrating another Waratahs attack, but the indiscretion only cost three points through the boot of Barnes, with the Brumbies actually ending the 14-man, 10-minute spell ahead after two penalties by Jesse Mogg.

Barnes then gave the Waratahs the momentum they needed, taking the ball with a runaround one-two with Hooper, and when he go the ball back he found acres of space and darted in between three defenders to score an excellent try.

With a tense five minutes remaining, the Waratahs attacked down the right again, this time as winger Peter Benham stepped his way through two tackles to score what turned out to be the winning try, leaving the Brumbies bruised and battered.

The result was also a good one for the Bulls, who are now just five points behind the Brumbies with two games less played, and now have a definite chance of topping the overall log if they can continue their good run of form.

Waratahs - Tries: Michael Hooper, Berrick Barnes, Peter Betham. Conversions: Barnes (2). Penalties: Brendan McKibbin (3).
Brumbies - Tries: Ben Mowen, Tevita Kuridrani. Penalties: Christian Lealiifano, Jesse Mogg (3).