The Waratahs extended their unbeaten run in Super Rugby to four matches by beating the Bulls 31-8 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney but lost star Wallaby Kurtley Beale at the start of the match.
The loss is the Bulls second on tour so they return to South Africa with two losses and a bonus point win over the Western Force.
The result moves the Waratahs to the top of the Australian Super Rugby Conference with the Brumbies in second. The result moves the Waratahs into second place in the overall standings and the Brumbies drop from second to ninth.
A big concern for the Waratahs will be the loss of Kurtley Beale in the opening minute of the match. There were initial fears that he had sustained a posterior cruciate ligament injury but it now seems that patellar tendon (knee cap) injury is more likely.
The loss of Beale would be a blow for the Waratahs and the Wallabies compounded by the recent injury to Matt Toomua of the Brumbies for the upcoming June Internationals.
Beale was taken to hospital and if his injury is a patellar injury he will have surgery over the next 48 hours and will only be expected to make a full recovery in around six months. That would mean he has played his last match for the Waratahs as he has signed for Wasps.
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has said that he does not expect Beale to play again for the Waratahs this season.
The Waratahs battled to create distance from the Bulls on the scoreboard in the first half but improved in the second half to win comfortably.
scrum-half Nick Phipps scored two tries, laid on the final pass for another try by Dean Mumm before replacement prop Angus Taavao-Matau clinched the fourth try and a bonus point crashing over under the cross bar in the final minute.
Bernard Foley kicked four conversions and a penalty from six attempts.
The Bulls, beaten 23-6 by the Brumbies in Canberra last week, mounted few attacks in the second half as the Waratahs, led by lock Dave Dennis, took charge.
“We grew slowly as the game went on, lots of penalties in the first half, so I’m really happy with the end result,” Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said.
“I was happy with our forwards going through the middle and the backs sharpened up so to get a win and a bonus point is most pleasing.
“Pleased we are getting away and home wins now and we face a huge test in the next few weeks against Kiwi outfits, so it’s an exciting challenge and the momentum is great at the moment.”
Bulls skipper Adriaan Strauss said it was a tough end to a hard three weeks touring in Australia.
“We were in it in the first half and in the second half they got a lot of yards on us and we had to force the play out of areas that we didn’t actually want to and it put us under a lot of pressure,” Strauss said.
Next week the Bulls return to South Africa as they host the Stormers next weekend in Pretoria while the Waratahs travel to Christchurch
Final Score Waratahs 31 (7) Bulls 8 (3)
Tries – N.Phipps 2, D.Mumm
Pen – B.Foley
Con – B.Foley 4
Cards – J.Kirsten (78th min yellow)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:James Leckie
TMO : George Ayoub
1. Paddy Ryan ,2. Tatafu Polota-Nau,3. Tom Robertson ,4. David Dennis ,5. Will Skelton,6. Dean Mumm ,7. Michael Hooper (c), 8. Wycliff Palu ,9. Nick Phipps ,10. Bernard Foley ,11. Rob Horne ,12. Kurtley Beale ,13. Israel Folau,14. Reece Robinson ,15. Andrew Kellaway ,
Replacements:16. Hugh Roach ,17. Jeremy Tilse,18. Angus Ta’avao ,19. Sam Lousi,20. Ned Hanigan / Jack Dempsey 21. Matt Lucas,22. David Horwitz ,23. Matt Carraro,
SP Marais, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Francois Brummer, Dries Swanepoel.