Henry Speight produced two great second-half tries to help seal a 28-12 win for the Brumbies over the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
The Brumbies have now won nine consecutive Super Rugby wins over Australian opposition and it was their fifth consecutive Aussie derby victory on the road. And this win makes the men from Canberra the first winners of the Dan Vickerman Cup.
The Waratahs had little to celebrate. Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps and Sekope Kepu all played their 100th matches - Hooper at just 25 years of age. But that was all. The defeat meant that the Waratahs have conceded 120 points in their last three matches.
It was not a game you would want to remember or watch again, mainly because of the poor quality of play and the desperately poor skill levels of both teams. There were more than 50 errors between the two sides in 80 minutes of dour play. The handling, kicking, scrumming, line-outs, mauls were all messes, and every stoppage became a slow, long process.
Excuses were made for the rain that had fallen in Sydney in the week preceding the match. There was no rain during the match.
Obviously people knew this would happen as most seats were empty - and this was a local derby which SANZAAR says is the most desirable of Super Rugby matches.
Of those stoppages there were were sad ones. Josh Mann-Rea was helped off with a damaged knee, Jack Dempsey with what looked like a broken ankle and Kepu with concussion.
Occasionally rugby did break out. Thank heavens for Henry Speight.
The Waratahs started on top. Three penalties in quick succession gave them three five-metre line-outs in succession and they had the added advantage after the second when Scott Fardy was sent off to the sin bin. They mauled from each of the five-metre line-outs and scored after the third when prop Tom Robertson burst over from close quarters. 7-0 after 10 minutes.
There was flash of excitement when Bryce Hegarty charged down a kick and got it again with not a Brumby within cooee but was called back for ungained advantage.
A penalty enabled the Brumbies to have a five-metre line-out. They mauled but the Waratahs pushed them back. Instead they went left where Tevita Kuridrani ran over Phipps to score under the posts. 7-7 after 27 minutes.
Israel Folau put the Waratahs on the attack but they were penalised 10 metres from their line.
The second half started in similar drabness till Jed Holloway was remarkably silly. The Waratahs won a scrum and went blindside. Holloway annoyed Fardy by pulling him back by the jersey. The referee penalised Holloway, the Brumbies kicked out for a five-metre line-out which they mauled. They drove the maul over for line and scored a try, credited to Robbie Abel who was on for Mann-Rea. 14-7 to the Brumbies after 59 minutes, and that was not the end of the scoring.
From the kick-off the Brumbies came back. Joe Powell chipkicked towards the right. Henry Speight raced and got the bouncing ball. He left-footed a kick over the head of Andrew Kellaway and chased, well ahead of opponents. The ball stopped a metre short of the try-line, but Speight dived, collected it and scored. 21-14 after 61 minutes, and that was not the end of the scoring.
The Waratahs did some passing that gave the lie to all the excuses about a slippery ball. They went left with perfect passes, crisp, waist high and in front of the recipient. Jake Gordon gave to Folau, who gave to David McDuling who gave to Kellaway on the touchline. Kellaway gave immediately inside to Gordon who raced over for a delightful try. 21-12 after 63 minutes.
Confidence restored, the handling was better for the rest of the match.
The Waratahs attacked when Rob Horne raced down the left but Fardy won a turnover.
The Brumbies had a line-out on their right and mauled. The ball came free and Powell gave to Speight coming in off his right wing. Speight powered past Irae Simone and other would-be tacklers for a spectacular dive under the posts. 28-12 after 75 minutes.
The Waratahs attacked and were on the Brumbies' line when they were penalised and Speight kicked out to end the match.
Man of the Match: He was the one bright star on a dull night - Henry Speight of the Brumbies.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Robertson, Gordon
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Kuridrani, Abel, Speight 2
Cons: Hawera 4
Yellow card: Scott Fardy (Brumbies, 8 - repeated infringements, collapsing the maul illegally)
Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 David Lolohea, 19 David McDuling, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Michael Wells, 22 Jake Gordon, 23 David Horwitz.
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nigel Ah Wong, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Lolo Fakaosilea, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leulua'Iali'I-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Ben Hyne, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Andrew Smith.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), William Houston (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)
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