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Waratahs beat Brumbies to lead ladder but lose Dave Dennis to knee injury

Waratahs 39 Brumbies 8

Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis is helped off ANZ Stadium.

Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis is helped off ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

As it happened: Waratahs v Brumbies

The Waratahs rocketed to the top of the Super Rugby ladder with a five-try bonus-point win over arch rivals the Brumbies but will navigate a treacherous final two rounds and finals campaign without stalwart leader Dave Dennis after an agonising knee injury appeared to end his season. 

Dennis was left clutching his right knee in agony and had to be helped from the field after going down trying to tackle Brumbies winger Henry Speight, with teammate Wycliff Palu close by, in the 35th minute.

Down and out: Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has his injured knee treated during Saturday night's match against the Brumbies.

Down and out: Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has his injured knee treated during Saturday night's match against the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images

Waratahs versus Brumbies
View Match Statistics
Players Robinson (15min), Alofa (18min, 68min), Foley (60min), Palu (79min) Tries 5 Tries 1 Players Mogg (29min)
Players Beale 0/1 (0%), Foley 4/4 (100%) Conversions 4 Conversions 0 Players Lealiifano 0/1 (0%)
Players Beale 1/2 (50%), Foley 1/2 (50%) Penalty goals 2 Penalty goals 1 Players Lealiifano 1/2 (50%)
Players Drop goals 0 Drop goals 0 Players

It was a heartbreaking moment in a game that would otherwise be cause for wild NSW celebration at ANZ Stadium.

The Waratahs weathered a physical battle to score two first-half tries before the Brumbies' depleted defences caved to allow in three more five-pointers in front of a 29,000-strong crowd. 

The Brumbies, up against it with a prop playing at hooker, no Matt Toomua and on their third-choice mid-field pairing, put admirable pressure on their hated Sydney rivals with an astute kicking game and relentless hustle at the breakdown. 

But it was a step too far for the 2013 finalists, who were also without Stephen Moore, Sam Carter, Pat McCabe, David Pocock and Andrew Smith, lost Tevita Kuridrani to concussion and were issued a yellow card for repeated infringements at the contact area. 

The Waratahs built a 14-0 buffer by halfway through the first period and defended it from persistent Brumbies sorties before brilliant breaks from Kurtley Beale, Folau and a second try to winger Alofa Alofa tore open the Brumbies defence and put a major dent in their morale. 

Nic White and Jesse Mogg produced the highlight of the Brumbies' performance with a neat cross-field kick to try effort that caught out NSW star Israel Folau in the 30th minute.

But Folau had the last laugh when he stepped and fended three defenders then dragged a further four Brumbies jerseys over the try line in the 59th minute. Referee Steve Walsh ruled it held up in-goal but the damage was done. 

An explosive drive for the try line culminated in five-eighth Bernard Foley's two minutes later and the Waratahs led 24-8, and Folau and Alofa struck to put a NSW win beyond doubt with 11 minutes to go. 

The Brumbies were handed first point-scoring opportunity but Christian Leali'fano's kick bounced off the right upright.

Kuridrani was gone within the first 10 minutes but not before making a trademark big hit on NSW No.12 Kurtley Beale. It was his next effort on the much larger Jacques Potgieter that did the damage and he was forced to sit out the game on the sideline. 

It cost the Brumbies minutes later, when Kuridrani's inexperienced replacement Rodney Iona's first touch of a ball in Super Rugby went into the hands of NSW winger Alofa Alofa.

Iona had targeted Robbie Coleman near the Waratahs' 10 metre line but it found Alofa instead.

The France-bound winger sprinted the 60 metres to try line safety and Foley converted to give the Waratahs a 14-0 lead after Benn Robinson's five-pointer in the 16th minute.

Mogg got the better of his opposite number next but the wind wrought havoc with Leali'ifano's conversion, blowing it well wide of the posts to leave the Waratahs in front 14-5.

Disaster struck next for Dennis, and Beale missed a penalty kick in the 37th minute to run in 14-5 leaders. 

The Brumbies could only add a penalty goal to their tally in the second half, while the Waratahs' attack had a field day. A well-deserved try to Wycliff Palu moments before the hooter capped a comprehensive rearranging of the Australian rugby pecking order. 

The age of the Waratahs may finally have dawned, with the Brumbies ready to farewell a coach in Laurie Fisher, and possibly another season's hopes of Super Rugby glory. 

18 comments so far

  • Bitter Brumbies fans were cocky after the first round win over the Tahs in Canberra. They carried on about how they have it over the Tahs and that the Tahs stated ambition of finishing in the top two was a pipe dream. Well the Brumbies have lost more games than they have won against the Tahs and one win from the last two games will give the Tahs a top two finish. All the Tah haters can enjoy a slice of humble pie now. No one can deny that the Tahs are contenders. Go the Tahs and keep the ball rolling.

    Date and time
    June 28, 2014, 10:20PM
    • Great achievement Tahs fans in your star studded team beating a virtual Brums 2nd fifteen. Can’t wait to see your beloved team lose the next few games.

      Date and time
      June 29, 2014, 2:51PM
    • Great achievement from the Horses losing to the Tahs according to Ben Mowen. Off to the glue factory for this year.

      Date and time
      June 29, 2014, 3:21PM
  • Well done Tahs.... a little rusty but successful all the same. Could even say defining.
    Thanks Brumbies for the contest.... you did yourselves proud under the circumstances.

    Tragic for Dennis and I hope it's not as bad as it appears.

    Next it's those crazy Highlanders....phew, it doesn't get any easier.... but when you're the top of the log it's to be expected :))

    inner west sydney
    Date and time
    June 28, 2014, 10:26PM
    • @ Chook.. Well mate, time for the bragging rights, is fast approaching. lol. So if my "crazy" Highlanders, can take their No. 1 game to Moore Park, then honestly mate they will " make Izzy look dizzy".,and if they do happen to start with Ioane, at No 7, Micheal Hooper will be querying as to where he came from. On the Highlanders last hit out, it really showed that the pack is playing well, especially at the set pieces, line outs & mauls, as they completely outplayed, a far heavier and so called more experienced Chief pack. So mate,let's see, if if they do bring their top game to Sydney, as remember they are the only team in the competition,this year,to beat the Shark's at home in Durban, by a " bonus point 4 tries to zip. Cheers

      Roxburgh Hydro via Orange
      Date and time
      June 29, 2014, 7:48AM
  • I never like to see a player get injured, but I honestly believe the Tahs will be stronger without Dennis.
    - Hooper is a better captain
    - Potgieter can start at No 6
    - Skelton can now be in the run on side
    - Hoiles to have more of an impact, which is a good thing.

    Well done Tahs, best defense in the comp and 2nd best attack. Great to see them top of the table.

    Date and time
    June 29, 2014, 12:50AM
    • Yes it is always sad to see a player of Dennis standing and ability get injured, but have believed, for some time now, he was mainly there for his captaincy alone, Cheika has that selection dilemma off the table now.
      Potgeiter on the side and BIG Will Skelton locking the scrum, very formidable.
      Go Tahs

      inner western nsw
      Date and time
      June 29, 2014, 6:33AM
    • @Curry - you took the words out of my mouth! They should be better without big Dave.

      Whale Oil Beef Hooked
      Date and time
      June 29, 2014, 7:18AM
    • Somebody has to come to DD's defence. He may not be a highlights reel player (most of the time, is sometimes) but I think he adds grunt, nous and leadership. I'm glad we have some able-bodied replacements. I think he is better than suggested above.

      Date and time
      June 29, 2014, 10:24AM
    • @ Curry

      Sorry buddy but I have to disagree.
      Whilst Denno aint one of the poster-boys of Rugby, he's still a very good Rugby player.
      As others have mentioned, here in his defence, he brings many qualities to the Tahs' team. First of all, his leadership is excellent but, just as good, is his skilled line-out work. That is probably the biggest loss for the Tahs.
      As to your suggestions regards to Jacques and Will.... a usual 60 minute spurt from Jacques, in the second row, and then big Will replacing him, is an enormous luxury that can't be replaced. But, yes, those two can fill the loss of Denno but it's probably a better option to have Hoiles at the starting 6 position and Jacques and Will where they are presently.
      Anyhow, regardless of your thoughts, or my thoughts, the decision will be made by Cheika.
      Eitherway, Denno is a big loss..... no doubt about it !

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      June 30, 2014, 1:14PM

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