Super Rugby
Waratahs, Brumbies bring fireworks to Sydney
ESPN Staff
March 22, 2015
Date/Time: Mar 22, 2015, 16:05 local, 05:05 GMT
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
New South Wales Waratahs 28 - 13 Brumbies
Half-time: 20 - 13
Tries: Folau, Foley, Latu
Cons: Foley 2
Pens: Beale, Foley 2
Tries: Toomua
Cons: Leali'ifano
Pens: Leali'ifano 2
Israel Folau of the Waratahs scores a try, Waratahs v Brumbies, Super Rugby, Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, March 22, 2014
Israel Folau finds the line for the first time in four games
© Getty Images

It was Sunday afternoon rugby at it's best with two of Australia's best teams producing fireworks in Sydney and the Waratahs producing their best performance of the season. Looking like the championship side of 2014, the Waratahs were huge in defence and trusted their backline to spread it wide and move down the field, while the Brumbies just weren't clinical enough as they were hammered around the park.

Superstar fullback Israel Folau broke his four-game tryscoring drought and also laid on NSW's other two five-pointers for five-eighth Bernard Foley and hooker Tolu Latu as the Waratahs overcame their Australian conference rivals in a bruising derby.

The much-needed victory lifted the Waratahs to eighth on the table, one point adrift of the top six with three wins from five outings, while the Brumbies dropped from outright competition leaders to second position ahead of their bye next weekend.

Waratahs 28-13 Brumbies (video available in Australia only)

"We delivered that bit of edge that we needed and now we need to keep it. Once is not good enough," Cheika said. "For me, I think the Brumbies are going to be a grand final team this year, so to play well against them is pleasing for us. They've been playing really good footy, a really good balance between attack and power (with) great defence.

"So I think that's going to be a very realistic thing to say (about the Brumbies) because they're up the top of the table, still up there or thereabouts right now. For us, once we play three or four games with edge like that and start delivering that all the time, then we can start thinking that maybe we might be able to sneak in."

With potential Wallabies spots on the line, as well as the all-important competition points, there was plenty of feeling and niggle in the blockbuster showdown. In the end, though, it was the Waratahs who won the physicality stakes to take the points after fighting back from a worrying start.

Unlike last year, the Waratahs' defence has been unusually vulnerable this campaign, the champions conceding three four-try bonus points in their first four games. It took the Brumbies just two minutes to breach their defence, with five-eighth Matt Toomua slicing through Michael Hooper and Rob Horne and escaping Folau's clutches to post the first try of the game.

Referee Craig Joubert had his work cut out keeping a lid on proceedings in the high-stakes encounter and issued Brumbies lock Scott Fardy with a yellow card after his cynical knock-on denied the Waratahs a try from a Foley long ball. Instead, two Foley penalty goals narrowed the Brumbies' early lead to a point before Christian Lealiifano replied with two penalties of his own to make it 13-6 to the visitors after 23 minutes.

But a long-range converted try to Foley, after Folau shook off Kuridrani, tied the game up before Folau's first try in nine matches for the Tahs gave the titleholders the lead for the first time after 32 minutes.

The competition's leading tryscorer in 2014, Folau handled twice in the movement, once again showing his permanent transition to the centres may not be too far away. A 48-metre penalty goal from Kurtley Beale in the 47th minute gave the Waratahs a 10-point buffer and Folau sealed the deal when he put Latu over seven minutes from fulltime.

"I've been really happy with the way he's been playing. He's just getting better," Cheika said.

Although Pocock made a successful comeback from five weeks out with ankle syndesmosis after being thrown into the fray early in the second half, his return has been offset by a potentially serious injury to Kuridrani. Kuridrani left the field in the 67th minute with his arm in a sling and Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said the classy No.13 would require scans on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.

But the great return to form by the Waratahs was marred by allegations of 'homophobic slurs' made by Waratahs players. Pocock complained about the comments to Joubert at the 67th minute and again made his concerns heard at the 72nd minute.

Joubert said he had not heard the remarks but told Hooper to talk to his forwards. "I'm getting some pretty aggressive comments coming from your guys - that there are homophobic slurs [being made]," Joubert said.

The Waratahs defence was huge and hammered the Brumbies attack © Getty Images
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