Brumbies make it 12 straight against Tahs as Bell hobbles off in worrying sign for Wallabies


The Brumbies made it a night to remember for James Slipper, but the Waratahs’ season went from bad to worse after losing their fifth straight match 40-16 on Saturday night.

Adding to the disappointment for Darren Coleman’s men – and new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt, who was tucked away inside GIO Stadium on a wet and wintry evening – was a potentially serious injury to Angus Bell, who limped off early.

The forlorn look on the Wallaby prop’s face summed up the Waratahs’ evening, which was one of misery and frustration.

Harrison Goddard scored an important try for the Brumbies on the stroke of half time against the Waratahs at GIO Stadium, on April 06, 2024, in Canberra. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Indeed, a season of what ifs got another notch added to Coleman’s belt, as the Brumbies made it 12 straight wins over the Waratahs.

Where Dylan Pietsch was held up after looking certain to score in what ultimately was the final play of the game, the Brumbies’ polish shined through.

After building scoreboard pressure in the first half, Corey Toole and Charlie Cale were on the end of two fabulous backline movements to score stunning tries in greasy conditions.

It was a mature performance, one in which their key decision makers Noah Lolesio and Tom Wright only enhanced their reputations even further.

Waratahs captain Jake Gordon, who watched his side spurn several linebreaks, could only nod in appreciation.

“I thought the Brumbies were really good tonight, put a heap of pressure on around the breakdown, and made it really tough for us, especially in these conditions, I thought they were really good,” he said.

You couldn’t fault the Waratahs’ effort, but their execution, especially in the wet, left a lot to be desired.

“We were OK in parts,” Gordon said.

“I thought the first half was a really good battle, we held them out which was really pleasing, but they put a lot of heat around our breakdown and we couldn’t get any flow in our attack. They were awesome tonight.”

Mr Jets finds the gap beautifully (feat. Slips on the mic)#SuperRugbyPacific #BRUvWAR

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 6, 2024

The Brumbies didn’t get the pay they were after in the first half, as hooker Billy Pollard was denied twice.

The rising Wallaby was held up from a fast-moving rolling maul, before later losing possession in the process of trying to dive out.

But Harrison Goddard’s try on the stroke of half-time seemed to settle the Brumbies’ nerves, as they found their groove in the second half by scoring three tries.

The Brumbies’ back-row was outstanding, with Rob Valetini scoring a thundering try to put the wheels in motion before Cale showed off his speed by diving over in the 78th minute.

Lolesio was once again solid with ball-in-hand, while he was faultless from the kicking tee as he finished the evening with 18 points.

“I thought the piggies were excellent tonight,” Lolesio said.

“Their job is to lay the foundation for us backs, get us going forward and our job is to keep the ball in front of them, especially in conditions like tonight.”

Noah Lolesio controlled the game well for the Brumbies during their bonus point win over the Waratahs at GIO Stadium, on April 06, 2024. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

The win was set up by the Brumbies’ strong set-piece in the first-half, with Slipper once again putting in a typically strong performance during his hour-long game.

It wasn’t just any old game either, with the Wallabies veteran running out for his 178th match to overtake Stephen Moore to become the most-capped Australian Super Rugby player of all time.

Schmidt will be hoping Slipper still has plenty left to give, particularly after Bell slowly made his way off after looking dispiritingly down at the grass with a suspected foot injury.

Should that prove to be the case, it will be a devastating blow for both Bell and Australian rugby, with the 23-year-old wrecking ball prop plagued by the injury over the past two seasons.

When Bell made his way off, the Waratahs were level with the Brumbies at 3-3 after both sides opted for shots at goal in the wet conditions.

Behind a dominant scrum, the Brumbies looked to squeeze the Waratahs but Jed Holloway’s defensive lineout prowess and a couple of Pollard errors gave the visitors some reprieve.

Having left with nothing on a couple of occasions, Lolesio took the chance to knock over two penalties to stretch the lead out to 9-3 after 34 minutes.

Tane Edmed hit back with a penalty of his own three minutes later, but the Brumbies landed a crucial blow on the stroke of half-time as Goddard, who was excellent filling in for the injured Ryan Lonergan, scored.

Edmed closed the gap with his third penalty of the evening in the 46th minute, but Valetini flattened the fly-half two minutes later to score after getting past Harry Johnson-Holmes.

Vicious Valetini ????#SuperRugbyPacific #BRUvWAR

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 6, 2024

Another penalty saw the Brumbies stretch their lead, before Charlie Gamble gave the visitors some late hope.

But it didn’t last long as Toole, who was kept quite all evening, flew onto a lovely ball from Lolesio to score.

Cale then put the cherry on top by diving over for a late five-pointer.

The win saw the Brumbies consolidate their top three position, where they joined the Blues and Hurricanes, who have a game in hand, on 27 points.

The Waratahs meanwhile are languishing in 10th place on eight points, three points behind the Highlanders.

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