ANZ Stadium, Sydney
HSBC Waratahs 28 – 22 Brumbies
Super Rugby Round 14
A man-of-the-match performance from replacement Berrick Barnes has lifted the HSBC Waratahs to a nail-biting 28-22 victory over the Brumbies at ANZ Stadium.
In a pulsating local derby, Barnes inspired a second-half fight back, as the home side scored three tries after the break to run down the conference-leading Brumbies. Significantly, the win also marked the first time since 2011 that the province has recorded three wins in a row.
Head Coach Michael Cheika was pleased with his side’s resolve under pressure, coming back from a testing first half to notch up an impressive win.
“In the first half we couldn’t get to where we wanted to be on the field. We just had to believe that if we got to where we wanted to attack then we could get something out of it. And once we could change our shape in that second half we were able to find gaps out wide,” he said.
Cheika attributed his side’s dramatic reversal in the second half to the injection of playmaker Barnes, saying, “Berrick changed the shape of the game for us, and he gave [Bernard] Foley a bit more room to move as well... and obviously he kicked well too which was important for us.”
The home side struggled to find momentum early on, losing enforcer Kane Douglas to a head knock in just the second minute of the match. The Brumbies pounced on the home side’s disrupted start, with Christian Lealiifano nailing a penalty goal to give his side a 0-3 lead after eight minutes.
Although the subsequent restart went out on the full, a dominant performance by NSW at scrum time gave halfback Brendan McKibbin a chance to hit back quickly. His booming penalty from the halfway line reined in an early Brumbies lead.
The Brumbies countered soon after and, after 12 phases of attacking pressure, the HSBC Waratahs line eventually cracked, sending captain Ben Mowen crashing over for the first try of the game. A miss from Lealiifano left the score at 3-8 after 22 minutes.
The end-to-end rugby continued, as an offload from inside centre Rob Horne sent winger Drew Mitchell through the Brumbies line and deep into the attacking zone. The momentum reaped dividends, with the Brumbies adjudged offside several phases later by referee Steve Walsh. McKibbin calmly converted his second penalty and in the process reduced the deficit to just two points.
But when Kuridrani pounced on a charge down in the 36th minute, the lead extended to 13-6. While fullback Jesse Mogg failed to add the conversion, the HSBC Waratahs lost inspirational hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau to a forearm injury, replaced by John Ulugia.
Although conceding 60% of possession and 67% of territory in the first half, the home side entered the break just seven points adrift of a determined Brumbies outfit. Cheika made several changes during the break, with Barnes replacing Horne and Matt Lucas taking the field in place of McKibbin.
Their injection paid immediate dividends, with Barnes offered an early shot at goal in the second half, only to have his attempt hit the left upright.
The Wallabies playmaker made amends soon after, floating a beautiful ball out wide to Michael Hooper, who sprinted 20m to dive over in the corner. Barnes then levelled the scores at 13-all, nailing an impressive conversion from out wide.
A bust soon after from Adam Ashley-Cooper sent the HSBC Waratahs back into scoring territory and, after 15 phases of attacking pressure, Barnes was rewarded with his first three-pointer of the game.
The game then swung back in the Brumbies’ favour, as three penalties in the space of 10 minutes from the boot of fullback Jesse Mogg gave the visitors the ascendency going into the final stages of the match.
Under pressure to salvage a result, Hooper returned the favour for his earlier try, offloading to send Barnes into space down the right hand side. The talented playmaker burrowed under several scrambling defenders for his team’s second try and then narrowly shaved the uprights to bring Dennis’s men to within one point.
The HSBC Waratahs playmaking duo continued to wreak havoc on the visitors, as a wide pass from Bernard Foley found the electric Peter Betham in space. The dynamic winger eluded two Brumbies defenders on his way to the try line and a four point advantage. Barnes slotted his second conversion to nudge the home side a further two points ahead and to their largest lead of the match.
With two minutes to go, and in a need of a converted try, the Brumbies ensured a frenetic finish when they were awarded an attacking lineout deep in the NSW 22. Although the visitors set an impressive rolling maul, desperate defence saw the home side spoil the attacking momentum and hold on for a critical 28-22 victory.
HSBC Waratahs 28 (tries: Hooper, Barnes, Betham; pens McKibbin 2, Barnes, cons: Barnes 2) defeated ACT Brumbies 22 (tries: Mowen, Kuridrani; pens: Lealiifano, Mogg 3)
Half-time: HSBC Waratahs 6 – 13 Brumbies
HSBC Waratahs: 1 Benn Robinson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Paddy Ryan, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 5 Kane Douglas, 6 Dave Dennis (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 8 Wycliff Palu, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 10 Bernard Foley, 11 Peter Betham, 12 Rob Horne, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Peter Betham, 15 Israel Folau.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Skelton, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Tom Kingston.
Brumbies : 1 Scott Sio, 2 Stephen Moore, 3 Ben Alexander, 4 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter 6 Peter Kimlin, 7 George Smith, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 9 Nic White, 10 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 14 Henry Speight, 15 Jesse Mogg.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Pat McCabe.
Yellow cards: Tevita Kuridrani (50th minute)
Referee: Steve Walsh
Man of the match: Berrick Barnes
Paddy Ryan will make his fourth start this season in the HSBC Waratahs’ big local derby clash against the Brumbies this Saturday.
Ryan’s inclusion at tighthead prop in place of Sekope Kepu is one of two changes to the side that last week overpowered the Stormers 21-15, with Drew Mitchell also elevated from the bench in place of Peter Betham.
The game is NSW’s first of the season at ANZ Stadium and Head Coach Michael Cheika’s first visit to the venue.
“There’s always something special about these Australian derby games because there’s so much rivalry built up over all the years of playing each other. With the Brumbies also leading the competition, this is a very important game for us,” said Cheika.
“Last time we played them in Canberra back in Round 4, our effort was simply not good enough to compete with a very well drilled Brumbies outfit. Throughout this season, we’ve been working hard at developing our identity and becoming an honest hardworking team and I think now we’re starting to play the kind of attacking running rugby that we want to be known for. How we play under the pressure of this match up will show how committed we are to play the brand of rugby that we want associated with NSW rugby.
“For me, building a winning mentality is about getting up for every game, about having that obsessive mentality every day in training as well as when you step out onto the pitch but there will be a little extra edge in the game, something I personally enjoy in rugby.
“The Brumbies have been showing the way all season. They’re well ahead of us on the table, they’re very disciplined in the way they play the game and they’ve got good leadership. I’m sure they’ll think they will have an edge on us so it’s up to us to respond in kind. We’ll require the level of physicality that we showed against the Stormers last week plus 10 per cent.”
On Saturday, the HSBC Waratahs continue their celebration of grassroots rugby, with the annual fixture between NSW Suburban and Country taking place as a curtain raiser to the main Super Rugby game. At half-time, there’s more sevens action in store, with schoolgirls from Endeavour Sports High School in Caringbah and Sydney West Barbarians playing a sevens match.
The HSBC Waratahs v Brumbies match kicks off at 7.40pm this Saturday. Tickets to the game start from just $20 for adults and $50 for a family of four and are available online from Ticketek. All tickets to the game also include free public transport and access to the curtain raiser, which kicks off at 5.15pm. What’s more, fans showing their support for their state team will also be supporting grassroots rugby, with a proportion of all ticket sales going directly to the NSW Suburban and Country Rugby Unions.
Those in regional NSW can follow the game live on FOX SPORTS or keep up to date with every score live on Twitter @NSWWaratahs or by searching #WARvBRU.
HSBC Waratahs team to play the Brumbies
Saturday May 18, 2013 (7.40pm)
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta)
3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
4. Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain)
7. Michael Hooper (Manly)
8. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs)
10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
11. Drew Mitchell (Balmain)
12. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
14. Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs)
15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)
16. John Ulugia (Eastern Suburbs)
17. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
18. Will Skelton (Sydney University)
19. Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs)
20. Matt Lucas (Manly)
21. Berrick Barnes (Sydney University)
22. Peter Betham (Sydney University)