Brumbies crush Waratahs in final game before Super Rugby shutdown
A rampant ACT Brumbies thrashed the Waratahs 47-14 Sunday in the final Super Rugby game for the foreseeable future, with the season now suspended because of the coronavirus.
A decision to halt the southern hemisphere club championship, which features 15 teams from five countries, was made on Saturday after New Zealand said all inbound travellers must self-isolate for 14 days.
Australia introduced similar measures an hour before the Brumbies and Waratahs kicked off in Canberra.
The Waratahs had lost four of their previous five matches, including a woeful capitulation against the Chiefs a week ago when they conceded six second-half tries.
They cut down on handling errors and turnovers, but the fragile Waratahs defence was exposed again as the Brumbies scored seven tries to two.
“We’ve got a strong leadership group, a strong playing group and that’s what we pride ourselves on,” said Brumbies vice captain Tom Cusack, who admitted he did not know what would happen with the season going into lockdown.
“It’s one of those things that you can’t control,” he said.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how the game progresses over the next couple of weeks.”
The Waratahs led with a converted try after dependable captain Rob Simmons stretched out an arm to score after Jack Dempsey pounced on a loose ball.
But the lead didn’t last with winger Solomone Kata scoring off the back of a powerful Brumbies driving maul to make it 7-7.
Tries in quick succession for the Waratahs’ Mark Nawaqanitawase and a second for Kata kept maintained parity but the Brumbies went to the break 21-14 in front after Cadeyrn Neville drove over.
Joe Powell burst through to extend their lead early in the second period after Wallabies back Kurtley Beale pulled a hamstring as he tried to chase him down.
The Waratahs were finally overwhelmed after Dempsey’s sin-bin for dangerous play midway through the second half, with Tom Wright bagging a double and Tom Banks getting the Brumbies’ seventh try after the siren.
“I don’t think the scoreboard showed the effort we put in,” said Simmons.
“We challenged them well but they just showed what a well-oiled machine they are.”
With the season halted after round seven, South Africa’s Coastal Sharks top the overall table, but have played a game more than the second-placed Brumbies who are a point behind and level with the defending champions Crusaders.