A Joe Tomane hat-trick sparked a Brumbies 26-20 win over the Waratahs, as the ACT franchise reasserted itself as top dog in the Australian conference.
Tomane had two tries in the first 15 minutes as the Brumbies streaked out to a 12-0 lead and a third in the 48th gave them a handy nine-point buffer.
In front of 25,319 at Allianz Stadium, the Brumbies broke a 14-year losing streak at the ground and made it two-from-two against NSW this season.
Israel Folau’s foray at outside centre looked like ending in just 41 seconds after a head clash with Jordan Smiler but the Wallabies fullback returned to the field and added a record-equalling try to his name.
Folau’s 32nd minute effort equalled Lote Tuqiri’s all-time record for the franchise, though Folau managed the mark in just 51 games as compared to the former’s 79.
Waratahs winger Reece Robinson had his first Super Rugby try in the 22nd minute, finishing off a barnstorming Jed Holloway run, a play kickstarted by a Will Skelton offload, to cut the margin to five points.
It didn’t last long, though, as the Brumbies turned to what they do best, as Stephen Moore scored their third off a rolling maul with four minutes left in the half.
The scintillating first-half attack made way for a grinding second half, as both sides laid on the defensive pressure.
Tomane’s third was the only try of the final half, coming eight minutes in, as each side threatened but failed to turn pressure into points.
The sides traded yellow cards in the final 10 minutes, with Wycliff Palu walked in the 73rd minute before Brumbies backrower Jarrad Butler followed him to the bin four minutes later.
Bernard Foley stole some late points, injecting late hope for the Waratahs with just one score the difference.
NSW will be sweating on the fitness of veteran prop Benn Robinson, who was an early casualty with his night ended in the 10th minute.
The Waratahs head to South Africa this week as finals becoming an increasingly slim possibility, while the Brumbies head back to Canberra to host the Crusaders.
(Tries: R Robinson, Folau Cons: Foley 2 Pens: Foley 2)
(Tries: Tomane 3, Moore Cons: Lealiifano 3)