A Henry Speight double has led the Brumbies to a 28-12 win over the Waratahs on Saturday night.
It was no skills masterclass, rather a gruelling slog that we have come to expect from Australian derbies, but Speight’s two second-half tries were just the spark the Brumbies needed to claim the inaugural Dan Vickerman trophy.
After a week where the Brumbies’ future has been questioned, the best response was to win and in the process of their third straight win over the Waratahs they made it nine in a row over Australian opposition.
Handling errors marred the game, after a week of soaking rain in Sydney, but it was the Waratahs with the early chances, with a quarter of the opening stanza played in the Brumbies’ 22.
An eighth minute yellow card for Brumbies flanker Scott Fardy gave NSW a one-man advantage on top of their territory dominance.
It took just 30 seconds for the home side to capitalise on that, as loosehead prop Tom Robertson finished a series of pick-and-goes to open the scoring.
The Brumbies imposed their will on the breakdown after that, even short a forward, as Lolo Fakaosilea and Jordan Smiler started shifting the momentum the Brumbies’ way.
Josh Mann-Rea’s night was over in the 21st minute, the Brumbies hooker helped from the field after getting tangled up in a ruck.
Tevita Kuridrani levelled scored in the 27th minute, crashing through the line, and over Waratahs scrumhalf Nick Phipps along the way, to complete a Brumbies rolling maul manoeuvre.
The Waratahs were hit with their own injury concern, with Jack Dempsey driven off on a medicab with an ankle injury, just 44 minutes into the reunion of their first-choice backrow.
Dempsey’s injury ended a dynamic start to the second stanza, with the flanker making two ominous breaks but dragged down before cracking the 22.
Brumbies replacement hooker Robbie Abel broke a half-hour deadlock giving the Brumbies a second try off a rolling maul.
That kicked off a relative for the Brumbies, with Speight clinching their second in three minutes, collecting a Joe Powell kick and toeing the ball to his advantage to cross.
Just two minutes later, Waratahs replacement scrumhalf Jake Gordon had his maiden Super Rugby try and the gap whittled back to nine points, but a Speight try in the 74th minute snuffed out the home side’s chances.
The Waratahs face the Rebels next Friday in Melbourne, while the Brumbies host the Highlanders in Canberra.
Tries: Robertson, Gordon
Tries: Speight 2, Kuridrani, Abel
Cons: Hawera 4