The NSW Waratahs progress through to the Super W Grand Final after outlasting the ACT Brumbies for a 24-3 win.
There was no love lost as the ACT Brumbies met the NSW Waratahs, a team trying to maintain their perfect record in the Super W competition.
For the Brumbies, they would need a bonus point win to progress through to the finals. The match descended into a scrappy affair, with the Brumbies restricting the Waratahs flow for most of the game. The experience of the Tahs seasoned campaigners, combined with a few flashes of brilliance from some rising stars, saw them wrestle their way to a win.
After scoring early through Bella McKenzie in the 7th minute, the Tahs camped in the Brumbies 22 for long periods of the first half. The Brumbies managed to repel their attack with some staunch goal-line defence.
After some false starts off quick taps, McKenzie finally broke through again by cutting back inside and had the Brumbies defence on skates as she dotted the ball over for her second try.
From there, the game turned into a forward battle, with neither team able to gain any momentum or continuity due to lots of handling errors. The Brumbies' discipline let them down, conceding back to back penalties.
They ground their way out of danger, coming up with some big scrum plays to get inside the Tahs half of the field. Ella Ryan got the Brumbies on the scoreboard with a timely penalty goal.
However, right on half time, the Brumbies defence once again parted for Bella McKenzie, who managed to get the ball away to Tahs flyer Maya Stewart, who got on the outside of her opposite winger. There was no stopping her from there and she added to her impressive try tally in this year’s tournament.
The second half was a stop-start affair, with the Tahs looking to open up the game through the backs, but the Brumbies drew them into the trenches, getting over the ball and slowing down the pace of play.
It was the Brumbies that were not able to capitalise on the sway of penalties going their way, and the absence of Ella Ryan, who went off with a corked thigh, hampered their go-forward and at times they looked directionless in attack.
The Tahs kept coming but the Brumbies kept finding a way to spoil the raiding party, fighting hard at set-piece and the breakdown.
With no continuity in attack, the Brumbies weren’t able to mount any attack of their own, and the Waratahs relied on their first-half blitz to carry them through to the final whistle.
Katrina Barker was instrumental in getting the Tahs over the advantage line, while flyhalf Pauline Piliane was able to step seamlessly into the playmaker role, allowing McKenzie to inject herself into the play from her temporary position at fullback.
The unbeaten NSW Waratahs will now meet the Queensland Reds in the Grand Final on Saturday in an effort to claim their fourth straight title.
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Wednesday 30 May 3:00 pm AEST – Waratahs v Brumbies at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
WARATAHS (1-15): Emily Robinson, Adiana Talakai, Bridie O’Gorman, Kaitlan Leaney, Sera Naiqama, Fi Jones, Emily Chancellor, Grace Hamilton (c), Layne Morgan, Pauline Piliane, Margot Vella, Katrina Barker, Georgia Friedrichs, Maya Stewart, Arabella McKenzie
Reserves: Eva Karpani, Brianna Hoy, Penelope Leiataua, Sabine Blakeman, Skye Churchill, Nicole Nathan, Illiseva Batibasaga, Georgina Tuipulotu
INs: Illiseva Batibasaga, Katrina Barker
OUTs: Ash Walker, Mahalia Murphy
BRUMBIES (1-15): Iris Verebalavu, Harriet Elleman, Louise Burrows, Michaela Leonard (c), Emily Sogal, Pearl Rakete, Rebecca Smyth, Zali Waihape-Andrews, Jane Garraway, Ella Ryan, Hailey Derera, Teliya Heteraka, Siokapesi Palu, Tess Staines, Claudia Obst,
Reserves: Montana Ojeda, Niki Paterson, Kimberley Fyfe, Grace Kemp, Ash Fernandez, Susannah Cooke, Apryll Green, Talei Qalo Wilson
INs: Apryll Green, Emily Sogal, Tess Staines,
OUTs: Tayla Stafford, Makayla Morris, Lillyann Mason-Spice