The CA Brumbies have climbed into the Investec Super 14 top four following their 36-10 win over the Waratahs at Canberra Stadium.
The five-tries-to-one bonus-point win, orchestrated largely by flyhalf Stephen Larkham, elevated the CA Brumbies into fourth place.
Larkham, who scored two tries and played a role in setting up another two, said it was a team performance that allowed the CA Brumbies their first win over the Waratahs since 2003.
“When the forwards do such a good job it makes my job so much easier,” he said. “Our communication across the park was outstanding, not only in defence but attack as well. That chat from the outside from Gene [Fairbanks] and Coops [Adam Ashley-Cooper] was unbelievable and gave me so many options out there.”
The mercurial playmaker took just three minutes to set the CA Brumbies machine in motion when he ghosted across field before straightening and sending winger Mark Gerrard over for his first of two tries.
The same combination threatened to further extend the home side’s lead and bring the crowd 23,097 to their feet when Larkham chipped over the Waratahs’ defensive line into the in-goal area only to have Gerrard denied a five-pointer by the dead-ball line and the video referee.
However, the left winger could not be refused on the stroke of halftime after Larkham and Julian Huxley exposed some threadbare blindside defence to put Gerrard in space. The 24-year-old stepped inside opposing fullback Peter Hewat to score and stretch his side to a 22-3 lead at the break.
The Waratahs came out firing in the second stanza, maintaining early possession, working the ball down field and capitalising with a try to flanker Rocky Elsom.
However, the CA Brumbies quickly regained their rhythm of quick recycled possession and stinging, driving defence to again take hold of the match.
Larkham, who scored both the CA Brumbies second half tries, said he was pleased to continue the momentum after consecutive ‘away’ wins over the Sharks and Lions.
“We certainly came back from South Africa with a lot of confidence and felt we’d played some football we wanted to play,” he said. “Through the first five or six rounds of the competition we were a bit disappointed with the stuff we were putting out on the paddock but it’s finally paying off.”
The CA Brumbies forward pack was led by the human wrecking ball Jone Tawake who continually punched holes in the Waratahs defence including a try midway through the first term. No.8 Stephen Hoiles also starred in his first Super 14 clash against his former province while hooker Jeremy Paul turned in his most complete performance of the season.
CA Brumbies head coach Laurie Fisher said his side would benefit from the week off courtesy of the bye.
“There’s a few weary bodies out there,” he said. “We’re hoping to have Stirling [Mortlock] back for the next game and there’s a number of guys with bumps and bruises, so I think it’s good after ten weeks of footy to have some time to re-assess.”
“If we drop a game now we’re as good as gone. So it’s about refocusing on our next opposition, enjoying a few days off recovering and working out what we need to do to beat the Force at home.”
CA Brumbies 36 (Mark Gerrard 2, Stephen Larkham 2; Jone Tawake tries; Julian Huxley 2 conversion, penalty goal, Mark Gerrard 2 conversions) defeated Waratahs 10 (Rocky Elsom try; Peter Hewat conversion, penalty goal) at Canberra Stadium.
Referee: Matt Goddard (Aus)
Half time: CA Brumbies 22-3
1. Nic Henderson
2. Jeremy Paul
3. Guy Shepherdson
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Jone Tawake
7. George Smith ©
8. Stephen Hoiles
9. George Gregan
10. Stephen Larkham
11. Mark Gerrard
12. Gene Fairbanks
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper
14. Francis Fainifo
15. Julian Huxley
16. Saia Faingaa
17. Salesi Ma’afu
18. Peter Kimlin
19. Julian Salvi
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Matt Carraro
22. Peter Playford
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison replaced by 18. Peter Kimlin (54th minute)
6. Jone Tawake replaced by 19. Julian Salvi (57th minute)
14. Francis Fainifo replaced by 22. Peter Playford (58th minute)
9. George Gregan replaced by 20. Patrick Phibbs (63rd minute)
8. Stephen Hoiles replaced by 16. Saia Faingaa (blood – 63rd minute)
3. Guy Shepherdson replaced by 17. Salesi Ma’afu (64th minute)
16. Saia Faingaa replaced by 8. Stephen Hoiles (blood return – 68th minute)
2. Jeremy Paul replaced by 16. Saia Faingaa (71st minute)
12. Gene Fairbanks replaced by 21. Matt Carraro (73rd minute)
1. Benn Robinson
2. Adam Freier
3. Al Baxter
4. Ben Hand
5. Will Caldwell
6. Rocky Elsom
7. Tim Davidson
8. David Lyons
9. Josh Valentine
10. Sam Norton-Knight
11. Lote Tuqiri
12. Sam Harris
13. Morgan Turinui
14. Lachlan Turner
15. Peter Hewat
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau
17. Matt Dunning
18. Dean Mumm
19. Beau Robinson
20. Josh Holmes
21. Kurtley Beale
22. Ben Jacobs
Investec Super 14 Week 12
CA Brumbies v Western Force at Canberra Stadium
Friday, 20 April, 2007