The Brumbies may have ended the NSW Waratahs’ finals hopes with a hoodoo-busting and bruising 26-20 Super Rugby triumph in Sydney.
An historic tryscoring hat-trick from winger Joe Tomane helped the Brumbies skip 11 points clear of their arch rivals in the Australian conference, after securing their first win at Allianz Stadium in 14 years.
While the Brumbies are sitting pretty atop the conference, the Waratahs are now languishing in 12th on the ladder after suffering three consecutive home defeats for the first time since 2007.
The 2014 champions probably need to win eight of their last nine games to make the playoffs after once again being dominated at the set piece on Saturday night.
Kurtley Beale made a successful comeback from an elbow injury and sparked the Waratahs attack, but his performance was one of the few highlights on a forgettable night in front of 25,319 fans.
Israel Folau’s long-awaited move to outside centre didn’t quite result in more action for the superstar code hopper, though he did equal Lote Tuqiri’s NSW tryscoring record with one of his rare touches.
Tomane’s treble was the first ever by a Brumby against the Waratahs and sets the ACT side up nicely ahead of testing encounters with the Crusaders and defending champion Highlanders.
The Brumbies are now third in the standings after completing their first season double over the Waratahs since 2012.
“I thought in the last 20 minutes that we defended really well. We knew we had to work hard and I’m really, really proud of the guys,” said Brumbies skipper Stephen Moore
“We really needed that win.”
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper was staying positive, despite the tough road they now face.
“We’ve got to build and build because we’ve got another tough six weeks,” Hooper said.
The Waratahs suffered a blow in the opening minutes with Folau forced off for a concussion test following a head clash with Brumbies No.8 Jordan Smiler.
He was back in the fray in the seventh minute but too late to stop Tomane from crossing for his first try after some nice quick hands from five-eighth Christian Lealiifano.
The try came straight after a costly lost lineout from the Waratahs during which NSW prop Benn Robinson copped an accidental thumb to the eye from Brumbies lock Rory Arnold.
Robinson valiantly tried to continue before finally being forced off in another setback for the hosts.
Tomane bagged his second five-pointer on the quarter-hour mark after Matt Toomua capitalised on a two-man overlap on halfway.
Down 12-0, the Waratahs desperately needed to score next and did, winger Reece Robinson collecting his maiden Super Rugby try following some great lead-up work from Folau, Will Skelton and rampaging flanker Jed Holloway.
Foley’s successful conversion and subsequent penalty goal suddenly edged the Waratahs to within two points and they soon hit the front with Folau’s strike.
But their lead lasted just three minutes.