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The University of Canberra Brumbies have fallen 28-22 in the final minutes to a resurgent Waratahs team in a see-sawing match at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
The score changed hands on five occasions, with neither side able to take a strangle hold until the final 10 minutes when Waratahs winger Peter Betham crossed to clinch NSW their first win over the Brumbies since 2011.
“That’s a disappointing loss for us, but the great thing about rugby is that you’ve always got next week to fix mistakes and make it right,” Head Caoch Jake White said.
“I felt like there were enough chances for us to win the game, but letting them score three tries in the second half made it almost impossible to get the result we wanted.
“We have a week now to regroup and think about the game against the Blues. The road trip to Auckland is never easy and the boys are aware we will need to be better than tonight to have a crack at the Blues.”
Following shots at goal from Lealiifano and McKibbon, the University of Canberra Brumbies were the first to cross the try-line, with Ben Mowen reaching out to capitalise on a passage of quality play by the visitors.
Mogg’s first break up the middle was blistering, with the classy fullback eventually brought down five metres from the line. Folau was also able to turn on some class making metres each time he touched the ball.
With McKibbon adding another three from right in front the Tahs were back in with a sniff, but a charge-down try to Tevita Kuridrani off a Drew Mitchell kick gave the Brumbies a seven-point cushion at 13-6 heading into the break.
The injection of Berrick Banres at half time saw the Waratahs play more cohesive, complete rugby. The second-half opened with plenty of pressure being mounted on the visitors.
Adam Ashley-Cooper went close after he regathered a penalty shot off the posts, while a bullocking Michael Hooper ensured the Waratahs would take their chance at points.
Kuridrani was yellow carded but despite being a man short the Brumbies dug their heals in and defending hard.
Hooper’s try and Barnes’ conversion had the Waratahs level at 13-13 and looking like a team hungry to stay in the competition. More penalties to Mogg and Barnes pushed the score out to 22-16 in favour of the Brumbies with 27 minutes to play, but the Tahs would not lie down, continually trucking the ball up with plenty of physicality.
Betham’s try would eventually be the final blow for the Brumbies chances at victory. A rolling maul in the last minute gave the Brumbies one last sniff, but the Waratahs were awarded a scrum and effectively four competition points.
The University of Canberra Brumbies will travel to Auckland on Friday to face the Blues.
Waratahs 28 (Berrick Barnes, Peter Betham, Michael Hooper tries Barnes 2 cons Brendan McKibbin 2, Barnes pens) bt University of Canberra Brumbies 22 (Tevita Kuridrani, Ben Mowen tries Jesse Mogg 3, Christian Lealiifano pens) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Steve R. Walsh. Crowd: 21,817.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephen Moore (Siliva Siliva)
3. Ben Alexander (Ruan Smith)
4. Scott Fardy (Fotu Auelua)
5. Sam Carter
6. Peter Kimlin
7. George Smith (Colby Faingaa)
8. Ben Mowen (c)
9. Nic White (Ian Prior)
10. Matt Toomua
11. Joe Tomane
12. Christian Lealiifano (replaced by Pat McCabe)
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Siliva Siliva
17. Ruan Smith
18. Fotu Auelua
19. Colby Faingaa
20. Ian Prior
21. Robbie Coleman
22. Pat McCabe (replaced Robbie Coleman)