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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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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
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 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 3 2 1 0 47 10
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Stormers 3 3 0 0 26 12
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Chiefs 3 3 0 0 31 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Highlanders 2 1 1 0 1 5
Sharks 3 1 2 0 3 6
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