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Brumbies wallop Waratahs
ACT go nine clear at top of Aussie conference
ACT Brumbies underlined their Super Rugby title credentials with a commanding 23-6 victory over New South Wales in Canberra.
After a tight first half, the Brumbies comprehensively outplayed the Waratahs in the second period to stretch the gap over their arch-rivals at the top of the Australia conference to nine points.
The hosts showed no signs of jet lag from their big scoring trip to South Africa, with Fijian winger Henry Speight and centre Andrew Smith both touching down either side of half time.
Fly-half Christian Lealiifano, converted both tries and booted three penalties before he was stretchered off in the final play of the match with what appeared to be a serious right knee injury.
The Waratahs dominated first half possession and created several opportunities to score, but their only points came via two penalties from the boot of Brendan McKibbin.
Lealiifano and McKibbin swapped penalties on 10 and 16 minutes and again on 26 and 27 to leave the scores tied with three minutes to go to the half time whistle.
But, after 11 phases of play, and the first half clock a minute into the red, Speight sidestepped three would-be tacklers to score and break the deadlock. Lealiifano added the extras to give the Brumbies a 13-6 advantage.
The home side, who ran in 11 tries against the Bulls and Lions on their recent tour, took just three minutes after the restart to increase their lead.
The Brumbies hammered at the Waratahs line straight from the whistle and the pressure paid off when Andrew Smith went over on 43 minutes and Lealiifano converted.
The fly-half struck his third penalty on 71 minutes to seal the win and close out the Brumbies' first win over the Waratahs in their last five matches.
"It was a really important game for us, particularly in the conference system," said Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen.
"We only lost one game to the Bulls, and we got two points out of that. With a bye next week, it was important for a good showing tonight. We never even talked about jet lag."