Waratahs into Super Rugby final
Published 26/07/2014 | 12:59
The Waratahs booked their place in the Super Rugby final with victory over the Brumbies in Sydney.
A 26-8 success at Allianz Stadium means the New South Wales side will compete in their first ever home final next weekend.
Michael Cheika's team will play the Crusaders in a meeting of the teams who finished first and second in the table. The Christchurch team saw off the Sharks 38-6 earlier on Saturday.
Impressive defence underpinned the Waratahs' success, achieved in front of a 38,800 crowd.
They took the lead in the third minute with a breakway try from Alofa Alofa. The conversion by Ben Foley was missed but a penalty followed in the 22nd minute which gave the hosts an 8-0 lead.
However, the Brumbies absorbed the early pressure and battled back strongly in the closing stages of the half.
In the 31st minute the Canberra side were on the board when Henry Speight got over in the corner and a 39th minute penalty from Christian Lealiifano levelled the scores.
However, fly-half Foley kicked a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give the Waratahs an 11-8 interval lead.
Lealiifano missed a kickable 43rd-minute penalty which would have brought his team level - and it appeared to be a key moment in the contest.
Five minutes later Kurtley Beale picked up possession and won the race for the corner to extend the lead. However, Foley was unlucky to see his attempt to add the extras rebound off a post.
Foley took over in the closing stages, giving his team breathing space with eight minutes remaining with a penalty which extended the lead to 19-8.
The same player then scored his team's third try, rounding off excellent work by William Skelton, before adding the extras with two minutes remaining.
Although the Waratahs finished the game with 14 men following the sin-binning of Taqele Naiyaravoro in the closing stages, there was no danger of them failing to extend their campaign until the final weekend.