Defending Super 15 champions the New South Wales Waratahs bounced back to form with a brutal 28-13 mauling of the ACT Brumbies in Sydney on Sunday.
The Waratahs hit back after a muddling start to the season with a fiercely combative win over the Australian conference leaders, outscoring their rivals three tries to one before 27,243 fans at the Allianz Stadium.
The Sydneysiders won the contact skirmishes and Wallaby fullback Israel Folau was brilliant in attack, scoring a try and having a hand in the other two scored by Bernard Foley and hooker Silatolu Latu.
The Waratahs fell behind 13-6 after 24 minutes, but led 20-13 at half-time following Foley and Folau’s tries.
The Brumbies took a physical battering with Wallaby center Tevita Kuridrani coming off late in the second half with his right arm in a sling and scrumhalf Nic White led off looking dazed.
Matt Toomua scored the Brumbies’ only try in the third minute, but despite plenty of possession in the second half they were unable to get anywhere near the Waratahs.
Winger Henry Speight looked certain to score in the right corner as the Brumbies pressed the Waratahs’ try-line only to be knocked into the corner post by a desperate covering tackle from Wallaby flanker Michael Hooper.
The Waratahs have now won nine of the last 10 meetings with the Brumbies in Sydney and have moved to within six points of the Brumbies in the Australia conference.
Three players were sent off during the first half as the Coastal Sharks edged the Waikato Chiefs 12-11 in a bruising clash in Durban.
The Sharks’ hooker and skipper Bismarck du Plessis and center Francois Steyn, and the Chiefs’ hooker Hikawera Elliot were red-carded by Australian referee Angus Gardner within 28 minutes of the kick-off.
Several other players were lucky to escape at least a yellow card with the Chiefs’ replacement back Tom Marshall not punished for striking scrumhalf Cobus Reinach in the back with his knee.
“It was a very ugly first half,” the Sharks’ flyhalf and stand-in skipper Patrick Lambie said. “It is never nice to see players being sent off in a rugby match.”
The Chiefs’ skipper and flanker Liam Messam jumped to the defense of the red-carded trio, saying that none of them were “dirty players.”
“Rugby is a contact sport and that is the way it goes sometimes. None of those sent off are dirty players,” the All Black said.
Elliot was first to go having struck the Sharks’ prop Tendai Mtawarira on the back of the head with a flying shoulder during a ruck after 16 minutes.
A fallen Du Plessis followed him to the touchline just two minutes later after pushing his right boot into the side of the face of the Chiefs’ No. 8 and Japan captain Michael Leitch.
Steyn was dismissed on 28 minutes with the referee overruling the television match official (TMO), who believed a dangerous tackle on the Chiefs’ flyhalf Aaron Cruden was only a yellow-card offense.
A hectic Saturday for Super 15 referees in South Africa saw New Zealander Nick Briant sin-bin two forwards from the Australian Western Force side within 60 seconds in Pretoria earlier.
Lambie kicked four penalties from five attempts to win the sixth-round game for the Durban outfit, who trailed 11-9 at half-time in wet, windy conditions.
The Chiefs’ Sam Cane scored the only try at Kings Park Stadium and Cruden slotted two penalties, but missed two other shots at goal.
Victory lifted the Sharks three places to fifth on the southern hemisphere inter-provincial championship table while two-time champions the Chiefs remained fourth.
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