Brumbies claim Dan Vickerman Cup
The Plus500 Brumbies put in an exhilarating second half display to see off the Waratahs 28-12 and claim the Dan Vickerman Cup in the process.
Three second half scores, including a double to speedster Henry Speight, proved the difference as the Brumbies stayed top of the Australian Conference.
Following almost a week of torrential rain in Sydney, the surface at the Allianz Stadium was soft underfoot and cut up early making for tricky conditions for both sets of players.
As such the ability of the forwards to make damaging metres with ball in hand was paramount and it was the home side that made the initial inroads.
Eschewing the opportunity for an early shot at goal, the Waratahs opted for a succession of line-outs close to the Brumbies line and, after the team conceded a trio of penalties, flanker Scott Fardy was shown a yellow card.
A score seemed inevitable and it duly arrived when, after a series of drives sucked in the Brumbies defence, prop forward Tom Robertson picked up to blast his way over from close range with Reece Robinson adding the conversion.
It was a sluggish start from the Brumbies who struggled to maintain possession and get a foothold in Waratahs territory. Turnover ball proliferated making it difficult for the backs to get their hands on the ball and offer much in attack.
To compound matters the Brumbies were forced into an early change when hooker Josh Mann-Rea hobbled from the field to be replaced by Robbie Abel.
Finally finding a stable platform the visitors were able exert some pressure on the Waratahs defence and, after a driving maul was halted, the ball was swung left and Tevita Kuridrani brushed off a tackle to score under the posts, allowing Wharenui Hawera to level the scores with the simple conversion.
Both sides huffed and puffed thereafter with no tangible reward leaving the teams deadlocked 7-7 at the interval.
The second began in much the same fashion as the first with a scrappy opening not helped by an injury to Waratahs flanker Jack Dempsey who was stretchered from the field, allowing former Brumby Michael Wells to see some action from the bench.
A slippery ball meant it was back to basics for both outfits and a forward grind ensued, with some outstanding scrambling defence not allowing either set of half-backs the chance to get any cohesive movement going.
Whilst that may not have been what the vast majority of the crowd wanted to see, for the rugby purist the match became a battle of wills as much as skills. And it was the Brumbies who dug deep.
Hawera declined and eminently kickable shot at goal to elect for the corner and, from the resultant line-out, Carter caught and the fabled rolling maul allowed Abel to crash his way over amongst a pile of white-clad shirts. Hawera confidently slotted the extras.
What followed was simply extraordinary. Deep inside Brumbies territory Joe Powell chipped over the flat Waratahs defence and allowed Speight to burst onto the bouncing ball.
The flying winger collected, rushed past a tackle, kicked ahead and regathered to register his third try of the season and his 150th Super Rugby point. Hawera again nailed the conversion and the lead went out to 21-7.
But the Waratahs weren’t done and they hit back moments later as replacement Jake Gordon was on the end of a well-orchestrated move to cross. Robinson however was awry with the conversion leaving the Brumbies nine ahead with fifteen minutes to play.
The Brumbies secured the points when Speight broke away from two challenges with five minutes to play to grab his second, Hawera’s fourth conversion the icing on a delectable Brumbies cake.
Super Rugby Round 4
Saturday 18 March 2017
Waratahs (7) 12 (T: T. Robertson, J. Gordon, C: R. Robinson)
Brumbies (7) 28 (T: T. Kuridrani, R. Abel, H. Speight (2), C: W. Hawera (4))
- Ben ALEXANDER (17. Nic MAYHEW 55’)
- Josh MANN-REA (16. Robbie ABEL 21’)
- Allan ALAALATOA (18. Leslie LEULUA’IALI’I-MAKIN 57’)
- Rory ARNOLD (19. Blake ENEVER 50’)
- Sam CARTER
- Scott FARDY
- Lolo FAKAOSILEA (20. Ben HYNE 64’)
- Jordan SMILER
- Joe POWELL (21. De Wet ROOS 76’)
- Wharenui HAWERA
- Nigel AH WONG (23. Andrew SMITH 68’)
- Kyle GODWIN (22. Jordan JACKSON-HOPE 70’)
- Tevita KURIDRANI
- Henry SPEIGHT
- Aidan TOUA