POCOCK RETURNS AND ASKS REF ABOUT HOMOPHOBIC SLURS
David Pocock ended a month of injury frustration when he was injected in the 45th minute. The former Wallabies skipper has played just seven games since the start of 2013 thanks to back-to-back knee reconstructions and an ankle injury at the start of the year. Pocock was in the action in the 65th minute when something the Waratahs said irked the influential figure. Pocock approached referee Craig Joubert and said: "Sir, can you please watch for homophobic slurs." It's not clear what was said. Pocock has been an advocate for same-sex marriage and his strong stance on issues outside of rugby make him one of the most respected players in the game. Pocock was clearly irritated by what was said and was unsatisfied when Joubert failed to penalise or recognise what was being said by the Waratahs. If something was said and it can be proven, action should be taken.
THE FARDY KNOCKED DOWN
The Waratahs looked certain to score when they sent the ball wide in the seventh minute. Scott Fardy moved out of the line to shut the play down and his out-stretched hand knocked the ball down. Referee Craig Joubert initially ruled that Fardy attempted to catch the ball and awarded the Waratahs an attacking scrum. Bernard Foley's pass looked certain to and in Wycliff Palu's arms and it's like the NSW No.8 would have scored in the corner. Waratahs players protested and delayed the game restarting for almost a minute, giving Joubert and his team a chance to review the play. Joubert then changed his mind and ruled that Fardy had deliberately knocked the ball down, sending him to the sin bin for cynical play. Waratahs coach Michael Cheika was furious that Joubert didn't award a penalty try. Foley booted two penalties in Fardy's absence to cut the Brumbies' lead to one point. Should Joubert have packed the scrum immediately, or were the Waratahs within their rights to delay play and have the decision reviewed? When a similar incident happened 15 minutes later, the Sydney stadium didn't show a replay of Nick Phipps knock down a pass. Joubert tried to level the ledger when the Waratahs had already sealed the result, but it wasn't one of the South African's best games in charge.
HOME GROUND ADVANTAGE
Fardy was sent to the sin bin after Joubert saw replays on the Allianz Stadium big screen. But 15 minutes later, when Nick Phipps knocked down a Christian Lealiifano pass, stadium staff and broadcaster opted not to show any replays of the incident. Phipps shut down a Brumbies attacking play when he got his hands in the way of a Christian Lealiifano pass. Joubert ruled that Phipps was genuinely attempting to catch the ball, in the same way he ruled that Fardy had attempted to catch the ball. The Brumbies players protested and urged Joubert to check to replay. But no replay was shown and Joubert told the Brumbies to get on with play. It could be argued that Joubert should have double-checked Phipps' involvement to see if it warranted the same penalty as Fardy. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen raised concerns about the role of replays on the big screen after a Test against England last year. "TV producers, they're starting to annoy me somewhat," Hansen said. Sometimes it helps to have a home ground advantage.
FOLAU BREAKS DROUGHT
Israel Folau was outstanding in the first half, breaking a six-game try-scoring drought and sparking the Waratahs attack. The Brumbies had conceded just two tries all season, but Folau changed that in the blink of an eye. Folau played a major hand in setting up Bernard Foley for the Waratahs' first try and then got across the line himself moments later to put NSW in front. An in-form Folau is a huge boost for the Waratahs and the Wallabies in a World Cup year. He has been more involved in the attacking line this year and is starting to look more comfortable. His cause was helped by the fact the Waratahs forwards smacked the Brumbies in the physical battle. It gave Folau and co time and space to ignite the attack. The Brumbies had just 25 per cent possession in the first half but trailed by just seven points at the break.
The battle for World Cup spots added spice to an already intense Australian derby. The stud marks and ripped jersey on Christian Lealiifano's back was proof enough that there was plenty of feeling in the match. There were head-to-head battles right across the field while the entire Wallabies coaching staff were in the game. Australian and Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has a mantra of bash each other in Super Rugby and then join forces for the Wallabies. They did exactly that and Lealiifano was sporting some massive red stud marks on his back in the second half. Half-back combatants didn't hold back either, with Nick Phipps giving Nic White an earful. Phipps was heard on the television commentary to pick White out and say: "sucked in" when Phipps won a penalty at the ruck. Referee Craig Joubert even quipped: "I love it how you all agree when you play for Australia but disagree now."
TOOMUA'S TOUGH HEAD
Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua has a history of head knocks, missing a month of rugby last year after suffering back-to-back concussions while playing for the Wallabies. He got another knock last weekend and missed the second half of the win against the Queensland Reds. He is confident it won't be an ongoing problem, but the five-eighth is known for his big hits and when he raced out to try to grab Israel Folau, he went down with another problem. Brumbies doctors checked him out and cleared him to continue playing, but the match-day doctor stopped play about eight minutes later to pull Toomua from the field and have him checked in the change rooms. Toomua left the field shaking his head and returned for the start of the second half.