Fifth consecutive victory sends Waratahs to top

DARREN WALTON
Last updated 23:55 28/06/2014

Relevant offers

Super Rugby

Glenn Moore looking forward to change of pace Karmichael Hunt confirms departure from AFL Glenn Moore to take charge of the Blues pack Counties' Baden Kerr ponders shift overseas Reds to confirm signing of James O'Connor Ex-Highlander Robinson hooks Crusaders deal Chiefs have just six vacancies left on roster Thorn, Bekhuis not back for Highlanders Damian McKenzie signs three-year Chiefs deal Police oppose Tevita Li application on charge

The NSW Waratahs have soared to the top of the Super Rugby ladder and seized control of the Australian conference with an emphatic 39-8 bonus-point win over the Brumbies.

But the Waratahs' club-record-equalling fifth straight victory came at a heavy cost on Saturday night, with captain Dave Dennis suffering a suspected season-ending knee injury.

Dennis was helped off ANZ Stadium with a reported torn anterior cruciate ligament after falling awkwardly on his right knee following a tackle on Brumbies winger Henry Speight in the 35th minute.

The former Wallabies flanker has already had two knee reconstructions and it would be a cruel blow if the 28-year-old was ruled out for the rest of the Waratahs' campaign to have a third operation.

The Waratahs are leading the competition with two rounds remaining and on track for their first finals appearance in three years after putting the injury-ravaged Brumbies to the sword.

Needing to win to retain control of their own finals destiny, the Brumbies entered the pivotal derby with 11 players, including six Wallabies, unavailable.

Their woes were compounded in the opening minutes when Test centre Tevita Kuridrani was forced off following a head knock.

Injuries, though, weren't the Brumbies' only concern, with their lineout a shambles.

Fourth-choice hooker Ruaidhri Murphy - usually a prop - had four throws stolen in the first half alone and another after the break before being hooked.

The lineout wobbles and ill-discipline at the breakdown handed the Waratahs almost 70 per cent of possession and the home team inevitably made the Brumbies pay.

With driving assistance from fellow prop Sekope Kepu, loosehead Benn Robinson opened the scoring with the game's first try in the 16th minute.

An intercept try to winger Alofa Alofa three minutes later - off a loose Speight pass - doubled the hosts' advantage, with five-eighth Bernard Foley slotting both conversions.

The Brumbies gave themselves hope in unlikely fashion when fullback Jesse Mogg outleapt former AFL player Israel Folau to score from a cross-field kick from Christian Lealiifano.

After the two sides traded early penalty goals in the second half, the Brumbies were still in the hunt trailing 17-8 before some Folau magic turned the match.

The dual international beat about half a dozen defenders and carried three over the line after a powerful 40-metre burst, only to be denied a try by the video referee.

No matter, though, with Foley converting the pressure into seven points when he strolled over shortly after.

Ad Feedback

Alofa clinched the bonus point with NSW's fourth try before powerhouse No.8 Wycliff Palu iced the big win with a well-deserved five-pointer in the dying seconds.

While the Waratahs can secure Australian conference honours - and most likely a home final - next Sunday with victory over the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium, the Brumbies' finals fate now rest with others.

With a bye offering the ACT outfit no competition points next weekend, the Brumbies will likely slip out of the top six entering into the final round.

Stand-in skipper Michael Hooper said Dennis' injury soured the Waratahs' celebrations.

"It's horrible. Denno's been our leader from the front this year," he said. "You never like to see that.

"But the boys carried on and put it out there for Denno in the second half.

"We said we wanted to be top two at the start of the the year and we're on track to do that."

Stand-in skipper Michael Hooper said Dennis' injury soured the Waratahs' celebrations.

"It's horrible. Denno's been our leader from the front this year," he said. "You never like to see that.

"But the boys carried on and put it out there for Denno in the second half.

"We said we wanted to be top two at the start of the the year and we're on track to do that."

NSW Waratahs 39 (Alofa Alofa 2, Bernard Foley, Wycliff Palu, Benn Robinson tries Foley 4 cons Kurtley Beale, Foley pens) ACT Brumbies 8 (Jesse Mogg try Christian Leali'ifano pen) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Steve R. Walsh

- AAP

Special offers
Opinion poll

What did you make of the 2014 Super Rugby season?

It was a cracker and the best team won the title.

The Crusaders were robbed in the final.

It was a bit of a snorefest and the Kiwi teams largely disappointed.

Super Rugby? Please, bring on the NPC.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content