Brumbies hold off fast-finishing Waratahs in final trial

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar believes his biggest round one injury concern might just be a selection headache after his side held out a fast-finishing Waratahs outfit 34-28 in their final trial.

The Brumbies controlled proceedings for most of the game, especially when it came to the tight five, but it looked like disaster had struck when James Slipper and luckless winger Lausi Taliauli had early exits.

Slipper came off with a rib concern after initially playing through the pain of the injury  while winger Taliauli suffered what looked like a knee injury, with both iced up by the 23rd minute.

Taliauli had notched the first score in the ninth minute, barreling over the line but just 10 minutes later he was out of the game.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar played down the severity of those injuries post-match.

"Lausi was injured a couple of years ago and at that time he was in really good shape and he's in as good a shape as he's been in at the moment so it'd be disappointing to see him on the long-term injury list but we're hoping he'll be available for next week," he said.

"Slips was just a bit sore on the ribs so it was more precautionary to bring him off there."

Lineouts will be a big focus for the Waratahs ahead of their round one clash with the Hurricanes. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyMcKellar's more immediate worry is the selection headache he faces after two solid trial wins and the expected return of Allan Alaalatoa, Scott Sio and David Pocock for round one.

"Get me a massive box of Nurofen, i'm going to need them all," he said.

"There's going to be some hard conversations to have with guys."

The post-match prognosis for NSW centre Lalakai Foketi wasn't nearly as positive with Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson expecting the in-form 13 to miss "a few weeks" with injury.

Curtis Rona and Adam Ashley-Cooper played time at 13 with Foketi off the field but Karmichael Hunt also shapes as a potential replacement after a strong showing at 12.

The potential loss of tighthead Shambeckler Vui could be more troubling for the Waratahs, with the youngster limping off late in the piece.

Vui shapes as the back up to Wallaby Sekope Kepu and with the Waratahs light on front row depth and Test players being managed closely in a World Cup year, Gibson admitted his loss was a concern.

'Shham vui had a lot of ice on , with Sekope coming back he'll be limited in his minutes and we're going to have to find someone to take the rest of those minutes so plenty of challenges ahead of next week."

The Brumbies monstered the Waratahs in tight and dominated set piece, using their trademark maul to get on top at various stages, something that didn't go unnoticed by Gibson.

"There were a couple of things there that we've got to brush up before next week, obviously the Brumbies very good at lineout time and our defensive mauling wasn't up to scratch," he said.

"I think that's been a Brumbies hallmark for some time and I think they showed just how powerful they are in that phase of the game," he said.

Waratahs halfback Mitch Short broke through the Brumbies defence to set up the Waratahs' first try in the 15th minute, offloading to Jed Holloway before Will Miller finished off the slick chain of attack.

The Brumbies found their second at the end of the first period, in a similar fashion to the first with former Tah Irae Simone bulldozing his way through the NSW defence to extend their lead.

They started the second third the way they ended the first with a trademark rolling maul try to Folau Fainga'a, as the Brumbies forwards began to assert their control on the game and centre Tevita Kuridrani finished off another set piece chain 11 minutes later.

NSW lock Holloway responded immediately with a runaway try off the restart, bringing some spark to the NSW effort for the afternoon.

Ashley-Cooper was injected at 13 for NSW with 40 minutes to go, teaming up in the centres with Hunt briefly, with both giving Gibson food for thought as round one looms.

Brumbies prop Tom Ross added another score just five minutes into the final term but the Waratahs came charging back into the contest with two consecutive tries to Lachie Swinton before a final drinks break midway through the third period, a double that proved the final say of the game.

NSW big man Le Roux Roets was helped off in the final five minutes as the potential casualties started to pile up.

The Brumbies open their Super Rugby season on Friday February 15 against the Rebels while the Waratahs host the Hurricanes at Brookvale Oval on Saturday February 16.

Result

Brumbies 34

Tries: Taliauli, Simone, Fainga'a, Kuridrani, Ross

Cons: Lealiifano 2, Hawera

Pens: Lealiifano

Waratahs 28

Tries: Swinton 2, Miller, Holloway

Cons: Mason 2, Harrison 2