Canberra’s Brumbies have sealed the top spot in the Australian Super rugby conference by beating the Waratahs 24-35 in Sydney.
Both teams have one match remaining but the Brumbies now have 43 points and their nearest rivals the Rebels have 34 points so they cannot be caught.
The Brumbies outscored the Waratahs by five tries to three in the match so they missed out on earning the bonus point by conceding a late try to winger Curtis Rona on full time.
The Brumbies led 3-28 at half time but let the Waratahs back in with two unanswered tries before Tom Cusack went over for the Canberra side’s fifth try.
The result is the Brumbies third straight Super Rugby victory over the Waratahs since July last year and also means that the Sydney side have yet to win after three matches in their new home base at the Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta.
The Waratahs never really threatened the Brumbies in the match and after the men from Canberra opened the try scoring in the 13th minute they ran in four first-half tries.
Rory Arnold, Andy Muirhead, Irae Simone, and Folau Fainga’a all crossed for the Brumbies in the opening half while the hosts could only manage a penalty from Bernard Foley.
The Waratahs were an improved side in the second half but it took some inspiration from Nick Phipps to get them going when he sold a dummy seven minutes after the break and scored.
Ten minutes from full-time Foley chipped the ball through for Adam Ashley-Cooper to chase and he went on to score the Waratahs second try.
Having conceded two tries while not scoring themselves for nearly 40 minutes the Brumbies fought their way back into the match with Cusack’s try which put his side back into contention for the bonus point with five minutes remaining.
The Waratah had the final say though when they moved the ball wide for Rona who scored in the corner.
Next week in the final round of the regular season the Brumbies host Queensland’s Reds while the Waratahs travel to Dunedin to play the Highlanders.
It is a kind of end of an era for the Waratahs as the London Irish bound trio of Curtis Rona, Nick Phipps, and Sekope Kepu have all now played their final home games for the Waratahs and several players such as Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Bernard Foley are all coming off contract after the season and are considering their playing futures in Australia.
Final Score Waratahs 24(3) Brumbies 35(28)
Tries – N.Phipps, A.Ashley-Cooper, C.Rona
Pen – B.Foley
Con – B.Foley 3
Tries – R.Arnold, A.Muirhead, I.Simone, F.Fainga’a, T.Cusack
Con – C.Lealiifano 5
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan way
TMO: George Ayoub
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Tuala/Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Will Miller, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Tuatalatasi Tasi, 23 Cameron Clark.
15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Connal Mcinerney, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Lachlan Mccaffrey, 21 Jahrome Brown, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Tom Wright