Rugby Union

Waratahs 21 Brumbies 17

NSW Waratahs edge ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby pre-season trial at Wagga Wagga

It wasn't a win, but ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said there was a "lot of pleasing things" in their first pre-season trial.

Both sides escaped largely unscathed, with NSW Waratahs acting captain David Dennis (concussion) the only injury concern in the Waratahs' come-from-behind 21-17 victory over the Brumbies in front of 7237 fans at Wagga Wagga on Saturday.

The Brumbies' Aidan Toua tries to bust through Reece Robinson's defence.
The Brumbies' Aidan Toua tries to bust through Reece Robinson's defence. Photo: Les Smith (The Daily Advertiser, Wagga)

Larkham is implementing a more aggressive game plan for 2016 and that was noticeable from the start, with fullback Aidan Toua injecting himself into the play at every opportunity.

While it lacked a bit of polish, and they let a 17-7 second-half lead slip, Larkham said there was plenty to work with heading into next week's trial against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

The Brumbies' Sam Carter fends off the Waratahs' Will Skelton.
The Brumbies' Sam Carter fends off the Waratahs' Will Skelton. Photo: Les Smith (The Daily Advertiser, Wagga)

He said there were no injury concerns for the Brumbies, except for a few "stingers".

"There's a lot of pleasing things out of that. Obviously it hurts to lose any game in the last two minutes, but it is a trial game and we're certainly looking at the positives in our game at this stage," Larkham said.

"Our set-piece was superb, we found some really good shape in attack in that first half, we didn't get a lot of ball in the second half, but I thought the effort was mostly there in that second half."

Dennis said it was "a long way to come for four minutes" but there was no reason to risk coming back on after he came off worse in a big hit with Brumbies winger Nigel Ah Wong.

Ah Wong fielded a high ball and charged forward into a massive collision that ended Dennis's game.

"I'll get back to Sydney and assess on Monday. We're over in New Zealand next [week] so I should be right," Dennis said.

"A long way to come for four minutes."

It only took fractionally longer for the Brumbies' rolling maul to pick up where it left off from last season. They got their first lineout in the corner just 10 minutes in and hooker Josh Mann-Rea had the ball when the mass of bodies crashed over the tryline.

Brumbies youngsters Jordan Jackson-Hope and Nick Jooste both impressed in their first outings at this level, while former Canberra Raider Reece Robinson also showed he might have a future in the game with some impressive runs from the wing.

Robinson played a part in the Tahs' opening try after Toua fumbled on the wing when he looked to be away.

The ball went straight back towards the Brumbies' tryline, with Waratahs inside centre David Horwitz scoring.

Brumbies prop Allan Alaalatoa and former Aussie sevens player Michael Wells then crossed to give ACT a 10-point lead.

But the Tahs were able to fight back in the second half, with flyhalf Bryce Hegarty diving over from the ruck to set up a thrilling finish.

The impressive Angus Taavao scored the winner with just 90 seconds remaining.

In his first outing as a Brumbies captain, Matt Toomua agreed with Larkham's assessment.

"It was a bit scrappy, but I thought we put some good passages together to be fair, made quite a lot of good breaks down the edges, which is really what we're trying to do this year, so I was happy with that," he said.

"We were probably a bit flat and didn't finish that last pass, but the main thing in terms of creating space was really on tonight."

NSW WARATAHS 21 (David Horwitz, Bryce Hegarty, Angus Taavao tries; Hegarty 2, Andrew Deegan cons) bt ACT BRUMBIES 17 (Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Michael Wells tries; Matt Toomua con).