Vodacom Super Rugby
Waratahs clinch playoff spot
Phil Waugh (Gallo Images)
Sydney - The Waratahs crushed the Brumbies 41-7 on Saturday in one of their biggest-ever wins to clinch a place in the Super Rugby playoffs.
The Waratahs scored five tries to grab a bonus point and dominate their Australian rivals to reach the knockout stages for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
The Sydney-based side will finish either fifth or sixth heading into next week's playoffs depending on the outcome of the match between the Bulls and Sharks in Pretoria later on Saturday.
The Waratahs equalled their largest winning margin over the Brumbies - 44-10 in their first-ever meeting in Sydney in 1996.
Overall the Waratahs lead the Brumbies 11-7 in their 18 Super Rugby encounters.
But the Waratahs paid a price for the win with injuries to Daniel Halangahu and Tatafu Polota-Nau, while several other players were left nursing knocks.
Kurtley Beale again had another eye-catching match, initiating much of the Waratahs' attacking play and kicking 16 points from five conversions and two penalties from eight shots.
The Waratahs scored their tries through Lachie Turner, Sitaleki Timani, Chris Alcock, Sosene Anesi and David Dennis, with the Brumbies' points coming from a converted try by substitute Francis Fainifo after the full-time siren.
"It was a really good second half by us and we had our chances in the first 15 minutes to score more points so to finish the way we did it was a really good night," Waratahs' skipper Phil Waugh said.
"The guys, particularly in the forwards, worked hard tonight and won the contest up front and it was able to open it up a bit more for the backs."
Waugh said the battered Waratahs camp faced an interesting week ahead before finalising their lineup for their playoff game next weekend.
"We just have to try to get as many blokes out on the field as possible next week, we certainly have been struck by a few injuries."
Matt Giteau did not get the send-off from the Brumbies he wanted as he prepares to head to French side Toulon after this year's World Cup.
"We were just outplayed and credit to the Waratahs, their defence was really good and at the breakdown they really dominated," Giteau said.
"We couldn't get the quick game that we were after and they got field position easily with their kicking."
It capped a disastrous season for the Brumbies, their worst in Super Rugby with 11 losses in their 16 games and gearing for a team overhaul under incoming 2007 World Cup winning Springbok coach Jake White.
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Atieli Pakalani, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Dave Dennis, 7 Phil Waugh (captain), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Pat O'Connor, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Dan Vickerman, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Hugh Perrett, 21 Josh Holmes, 22 Sosene Anesi Brumbies:
15 Christian Lealiifano, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau (captain), 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Ben Hand, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Jerry Yanuyanutawa
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Jono Owen, 18 Henry Vanderglas, 19 Tom Boidin, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Francis Fainifo