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Waratahs beat Brumbies in Super Rugby trial

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New South Wales Super Rugby team the Waratahs fought their way back to beat the Brumbies 21-17 in a Super Rugby pre-season trial at McDonald’s Park in Wagga Wagga.

The match was the Waratahs first pre-season encounter and they fielded a mix of new faces, experienced leaders and home grown NSW talent,  but they put on a display of impressive defence and lightning attack, fighting their way back from a 12-7 deficit at half time to take the game by three points.

It was an impressive effort given the side lost their Captain, Dave Dennis just two minutes in to the match after he suffered a nasty knock from a barnstorming Nigel Ah Wong.

Forced from the field, Dennis was replaced by young recruit Brad Wilkin in what was his first game for the NSW Waratahs.

Wilkin, together with the likes of Jed Holloway and Jack Dempsey made great impact with the ball, following the lead of Will Skelton, Paddy Ryan and Benn Robinson who showed their skills in the forwards.

Former Auckland Blues prop, Angus Ta’avao, together with NSW Country lock, Ned Hanigan made it count in defence with some hard hitting tackles to stop the Brumbies in their tracks.

The host side was the first to add the points to the board with a rolling maul that saw Brumbies’ hooker, Josh Mann-Rea plot the ball over the line. With the conversion unsuccessful, the Brumbies were up by five points to nil 15 minutes into the match.

In what was his first game in the 15-man code since his high school days, NRL superstar, Reece Robinson was spectacular with the running ball. It was an exciting sign of things to come in 2016, as Robinson, together with former All Black, Zac Guildford continued to look dangerous every time the ball came their way.

Young guns, Andrew Deegan, David Horwitz and Andrew Kellaway all put their hands up in vying for a Waratahs jersey this year, finding their way through several gaps, making tackles where it counted and placing the ball well.

The Waratahs tallied up the turnover wins too, one of which found Reece Robinson again who, flying down the sideline, set the men from NSW up for a brilliant first try to David Horwitz. Deegan was accurate with the conversion and the Waratahs were on top of the scoreboard by 7 -5.

The Brumbies were keen to pack the pressure on the Waratahs at the scrum, using their powerful forwards to gain the momentum. It eventually paid off with a second try through Allan Ala’alatoa, leaving the Waratahs down by 12-7 at the half-time break.

The arm wrestle ensued in the second half as the blistering sun settled over the 7,237-strong crowd in Wagga Wagga and Head Coach, Daryl Gibson took to his bench to utilise his replacements.

The Waratahs were handed plenty of chances in attack, and despite a few nervous fumbles at times, managed to gain composure and continue to strike when it counted.

The next forty minutes was neck and neck as each side took turns in fighting for possession, penalties and kicks into touch to gain territory. Things started to look dire for the Waratahs when a scrum and ensuing penalty for not rolling away saw the Brumbies come well within reach of their try-line.

Some quick-passing from their fast backline then saw another try to the Brumbies thanks to some fancy footwork and a good offload from Joe Tomane to Michael Wells who crossed for the next five pointer at the 56 minute mark.

Down by 17-7, the Waratahs held on, giving all that they had as the clock counted down to the final siren. Once more taking every chance in attack, and making the big hits count, the Tahs continued to shut down the Brumbies and take the possession in their favour.

A big tackle from Angus Ta’avao on the Brumbies’ equally solid Rory Arnold was a big game changer, handing NSW another burst of momentum as they once again came agonisingly short of the try line just ahead of the final quarter.

The Waratahs maintained the upper hand in the final quarter, continuing to press for a five pointer that could have come at any point in the last 20 minutes. The Tahs’ reaped the rewards of their maintained composure, hard hits and pressure in attack, lulling at the tryline through Guildford, Robinson and the young backs.

There was just 10 minutes on the clock, but new recruit Bryce Hegarty managed to find his way successfully in the corner to score once more for the Tahs, who were now down by just three in the dying minutes.

The teamwork continued to pay off as the forwards stepped up time after time to press forward before the final try came through Angus Ta’avao who had been a standout all night. With the last conversion once again successful the Waratahs took the lead in the dying seconds.

The NSW Waratahs head to New Zealand next week to take on the Chiefs in their second preseason trial next Friday night.

Their first round of Super Rugby kicks off at Allianz Stadium against the Queensland Reds on Saturday 27 February.

Final Score Waratahs 21 (7) Brumbies 17 (12)

Scorers

Waratahs
Tries – Horwitz, Hegarty, Ta’avao
Pen –
Con – Hegarty 2, Deegan
Drop –

Brumbies
Tries – Mann-Rea, Ala’alatoa, Wells
Pen –
Con – Toomua
Drop –

Teams

Brumbies

Allan Alaalatoa , Josh Mann-Rea , Ben Alexander , Tom Staniforth , Sam Carter , Jordan Smiler , Jarrad Butler , Ita Vaea , Tomás Cubelli , Matt Toomua , Nigel Ah Wong , Jordan Jackson-Hope , Andrew Smith , Lausii Taliauli , Aidan Toua ,

Replacements : Albert Anae , Robbie Abel , Leslie Leuluai’ali’i-Makin , Ruan Smith , Rory Arnold , Blake Enever , Ben Hyne , Michael Wells , Joe Powell , Michael Dowsett , Nick Jooste , Joe Tomane , Jake Rakic , Tevita Kuridrani , James Dargaville , Isaac Thompson

Waratahs

1. Jeremy Tilse , 2. Hugh Roach , 3. Paddy Ryan , 4. Ned Hanigan , 5. Will Skelton , 6. David Dennis (C) , 7. Jack Dempsey , 8. Jed Holloway , 9. Jake Gordon , 10. Andrew Deegan , 11. Andrew Kellaway , 12. David Horwitz , 13. Matt Carraro , 14. Reece Robinson , 15. Zac Guildford

Replacements: 16. Tolu Latu , 17. Benn Robinson , 18. Angus Ta’avao , 19. Matt Sandell , 20. Senio Toleafoa , 21. Matt Lucas , 22. Harry Jones , 23. Bryce Hegarty , 24. Brad Wilkin , 25. Cameron Orr , 26. Rowan Perry ,

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