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Tahs' finals hopes flattened

Date

Georgina Robinson

Brumbies 23 Waratahs 6

Gamebreaker ... Henry Speight of the Brumbies breaks the deadlock after the halftime siren.

Gamebreaker ... Henry Speight of the Brumbies breaks the deadlock after the halftime siren. Photo: Getty Images

Jake White and his army of last-chance soldiers dimmed the lights on the Waratahs’ finals hopes with a two-tries-to-none humbling of NSW at fortress Canberra last night.

MATCH STATS

Lealiifano out for the season

Tatafu Polota-Nau of the Waratahs is tackled by Scott Fardy of the Brumbies.

Tatafu Polota-Nau of the Waratahs is tackled by Scott Fardy of the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images

The Australian conference leaders produced another hungry display of attacking rugby and confined the Waratahs to just six points to cement their spot in the tournament’s top three and widen the gap between themselves and NSW.

There are still six games to go in the regular season, including a chance in Sydney in two months’ time to avenge last night’s loss, but three games in a row ahead against South African teams will make creeping into the top six on the tournament ladder no mean feat for the Waratahs.

‘‘The Brumbies have pulled two wins ahead of us and clearly that’s a fair bit of ground to make up and we don’t have much time to make it up so it’s important for us again to regroup and to put in a very good performance next week at home against the Bulls,’’ coach Michael Foley said.

Over and out ... Peter Betham feels the full force of Brumbies defence.

Over and out ... Peter Betham feels the full force of Brumbies defence. Photo: Graham Tidy

But there’s a bit to do before then. Foley last night nominated the most basic of skills, passing, as an area that let down his side in attack, on top of shocking lapses in defence.

‘‘I think particularly loose passing,’’ he said. ‘‘[On] so many balls out of half line-break situations we got past half of their team to two thirds of their team and there was a few defenders left to beat and we throw a loose pass out of the contact.

‘‘And when you build pressure over five or six phases and you’re about to finish the job, you need to do that. You need to build a scoreline which changes the way they play the game. We never did that, they were able to remain comfortable – as much as they were fighting hard, theyw ere never under that pressure of having to play from behind.’’

Berrick Barnes of the Waratahs is tackled by Stephen Moore of the Brumbies.

Berrick Barnes of the Waratahs is tackled by Stephen Moore of the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images

The Waratahs, in contrast, were.

With scores locked at six points apiece for much of the first half, they appeared to have overhauled their game by keeping the ball in hand and limiting kicking. They also looked to have plugged the defensive gaps exposed last week against the Crusaders until they were caught wide open with seconds to go before the break, allowing the Brumbies to score their first try – and then their second soon after the break.

The defensive lapses were coupled with a frustrating inability to convert possession and territory into points during the first half, a persistent problem that etched deep lines in Foley’s browin the coaching box.

Brumbies players gather around injured Chirstian Lealiifano to sing the team song. Click for more photos

Brumbies v Waratahs at Canberra Stadium

Brumbies v Waratahs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, May 5. Photo: Getty Images

‘‘When we had so much opportunity in the first 20 minutes to score points and didn’t do it, it’s particularly disappointing [to lose],’’ he said.

‘‘I thought [five-eighth] Berrick Barnes had one of his better games, I thought he got the team on the front foot. There were six occasions I think I counted in the first 17 minutes where we were attacking and gave the ball back to the opposition and they were defending well, to their credit, but there were opportunities there that we didn’t take and I thought they were very, very good at being patient and taking the opportunities that came their way.’’

The Brumbies were also determined to find a way where the Waratahs were not, and the visitors helped their rivals over the try line on both occasions.

In the first instance, Barnes, winger Peter Betham and fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper fell off Henry Speight to let him cross and ground the ball after the half-time bell, in the visitors’ first real defensive lapse.

In the second instance, it was inside-centre Andrew Smith who slipped by Ashley-Cooper to cap an impressive, sustained period of pick-and-go on the try-line. It was a disappointing slide for the Waratahs and one that cannot happen again if this side is to make the finals.

If last week’s narrow loss to the Crusaders was an encouraging glimpse of the skill and fight in Foley’s men, this game was an insight into what the Waratahs lack: ruthlessness and true cohesion in attack, however hard that might be to manufacture in a back line assembled and reassembled with frightening regularity as the injuries roll on.

The good news is that the Waratahs should get hard-defending centre Rob Horne back for the Bulls game at home on Friday and they love a fight.

The bad news is the Waratahs are running out of time to get it together.

BRUMBIES 23 (Andrew Smith, Henry Speight tries Christian Lealiifano 2 cons 3 pens) bt NSW WARATAHS 6 (Brendan McKibbin 2 pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Chris Pollock. Crowd: 19,122.

 

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Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32 vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18 vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25 vs BRU 24 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46 vs REB 29 Report Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22 vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33 vs SHA 18 Report Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 20 vs BRU 30 Report Stats
CHT 24 vs HIG 45 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 34 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
RED 14 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 5 vs HUR 29 Report Stats
WAR 32 vs CRU 22 Report Stats
FOR 3 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 17 vs LIO 40 Report Stats
STO 31 vs REB 15 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35 vs HUR 18 Report Stats
BRU 22 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 25 vs REB 21 Report Stats
HIG 36 vs CHF 9 Report Stats
FOR 10 vs RED 32 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 42 vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27 vs WAR 22 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 56 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
FOR 20 vs BRU 33 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB 21 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
BLU 11 vs CRU 34 Report Stats
RED 3 vs CHF 24 Report Stats
CHT 33 vs WAR 58 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19 vs LIO 19 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU 7 vs HIG 44 Report Stats
REB 11 vs FOR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU 24 vs CRU 37 Report Stats
CHF 13 vs HUR 21 Report Stats
WAR 31 vs RED 5 Report Stats
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BUL 29 vs CHT 42 Report Stats
SHA 34 vs STO 12 Stats
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Waratahs 16 11 5 0 96 52
Stormers 16 10 5 1 50 45
Highlanders 16 11 5 0 117 53
Brumbies 16 9 7 0 108 47
Lions 16 9 6 1 -22 42
Chiefs 16 10 6 0 73 48
Bulls 16 7 9 0 9 38
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