Robbie Coleman of the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images
ACT BRUMBIES 28 (Nic White, Jesse Mogg, Ben Alexander tries; Nic White 2 conversions, 2 penalties) bt NSW WARATAHS 23 (Michael Hooper, Israel Folau tries; Bernard Foley 3 penalties, 2 conversions) at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night. Referee: Jaco Peyper. Crowd: 17,016.
YOU CAN'T TEACH GUTS
Brumbies vs Waratahs
Ben Alexander of the Brumbies reacts. Photo: Stefan Postles
The Brumbies went in with all the planning they thought could win them the game, but in the end it was pure determination that got them over the line. Two yellow cards in the final 20 minutes almost proved their undoing, but for some gutsy defence that kept them alive. First it was Matt Toomua who went to the bin for failing to roll away after 60 minutes. No sooner was he back and Ruan Smith was gone as the Brumbies weren't afraid to give away penalties at the end. It might have cost them two tries, but in the end it didn't cost them the game. Their forwards were immense, as were their backs, as they chased and harried every Waratahs player. They held on to the end for a thrilling five-point win.
THE FORWARD BATTLE
It was billed as the Israel Folau show, but it was the big forwards that took centre stage in the first half of the clash. With 12 Wallabies spread across both teams, it was always going to be an intense battle up front. But the Brumbies showed that while the Waratahs boast try-scoring superstar Folau, they’ve got the grunt up front. The Brumbies’ scrum destroyed the Waratahs pack twice in the first half, marching all over the star-laden big men. The Waratahs had eight Test players in their starting forward pack – seven Wallabies and South African Jacques Potgieter. But with the Brumbies led by Stephen Moore, they made light work of the Waratahs’ big men. Moore is having an outstanding season and has stamped himself clearly as Australia’s best hooker. The second time the Brumbies destroyed the Waratahs' forward pack led to a penalty goal and lifting the Brumbies to an 11-point half-time lead. In the last minute, the Brumbies' scrum won another crucial penalty despite having a man in the sin bin. That penalty won the match.
THE BRUMBIES' ATTACK
The Waratahs are widely regarded as the best attacking team in the competition with weapons including Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper. But it was the Brumbies who set the game alight with some superb running play in the first half. In a break from their game plan of the past two years, the Brumbies attacked from inside their own half. They found holes on both sides of the Waratahs’ defence and were rewarded when fullback Jesse Mogg saw a chance to take on superstar Folau. Mogg chipped over Folau from about 20 metres out and then won a foot race to the ball to score the Brumbies’ second try of the match.
THE DUBLIN HANGOVER
There were rumours during the week of a divide in the Wallabies squad after the night out in Ireland last year which resulted in six players being suspended. Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen was at the centre of the ridiculous claims. Some believe it was mind games coming out of the Waratahs camp to try to unsettle the Brumbies before the interstate derby. There were 26 Wallabies players in the game at Canberra Stadium. Mowen had a mixed start to the game. He dropped the ball when it rebounded into his arms after a penalty shot hit the post. Not long after the ball popped out of his arms when he was making a bust in the Waratahs’ half. Mowen wasn't helped by the slippery conditions, but he kept his head to lead the Brumbies to victory.
TOOMUA - THE HUMAN WRECKING BALL
Normally that moniker is reserved for Fotu Auelua, but with the massive No.8 sidelined with a knee injury someone had to step up. That man, it seems, is Matt Toomua. The Brumbies flyhalf put two massive hits on in the first half. First it was his opposite number Bernard Foley who felt the wrath of Toomua's shoulder. It not only rattled Foley's bones, but his skin, teeth and even his hair. Then it was Kurtley Beale's turn. The former Wallabies utility may have wished he was still having a break from the game as Toomua cam charging up to meet him with his shoulder of fury. Adam Ashley-Cooper was another to get a dose of Toomua's medicine that he was handing out to anyone who didn't want it. AAC spent several minutes in the hands of the trainer as "Pup" put a shot on him as the Waratahs looked destined to score before Bernard Foley fumbled the ball with the try-line beckoning.