Brumbies edge Waratahs in thriller
Sat, 07 Jul 2012 11:34p.m.
The Brumbies are well on their way to the Super Rugby finals after escaping with a 19-15 win over NSW at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Now on 58 competition points heading into the final round, they would have to lose to the lowly Blues at home next weekend and Queensland (53) would need a bonus-point victory over NSW to unseat the Canberra-based side from top spot in the Australian Conference.
Coach Jake White would be concerned at a second shaky performance from his side following the June Test break, but the result, breaking a 10-year drought in Sydney, was all that mattered against a Waratahs side with nothing to lose.
NSW dominated in most areas and had all the running in the first half, but a try to winger Henry Speight and sideline conversion from Zack Holmes in the 62nd minute got the Brumbies to a lead which they never gave up.
The Brumbies, under-rated all season, looked off the pace at the breakdown but two penalty kicks from Holmes and a long-range effort from Jesse Mogg gave the visitors a 9-5 lead at halftime.
However, the Waratahs saw immediate benefit from a new backline combination and an attacking mindset, with Tatafu Polota-Nau crashing over in the first half and Berrick Barnes forcing his way over in the 57th minute to give NSW a 15-9 lead.
But in the end it was to no avail, with the Brumbies showing composure under pressure before Holmes threw a looping long ball for Speight to score the vital try.
NSW reserve halfback Brendan McKibbin had a shot from 49 metres out which would have brought them within a point heading into the final 10 minutes, but it sailed wide.
The Brumbies missed out on the bonus point which would have absolutely guaranteed them a home final.
If teams are locked on points at the end of the regular season, it comes back to most wins and at the moment the Brumbies and Reds are locked with 10 wins each.
Queensland also remain a chance to still force a wildcard finals spot, as would the Brumbies if they lose to the Blues and the Reds take maximum points over the Waratahs.
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