The Plus500 Brumbies have taken a narrow 24 -23 victory over the NSW Waratahs in Sydney, finishing halfback Issak Fines scoring at the death to seal the win.
On a night where they were far from their best, the Brumbies showed tremendous resilience to find a way to win, claiming their 5th straight win against their most fiercest rivals.
The Brumbies got off to a flyer, showing no ill-effects of their travels from Canberra.
A well-weighted cross-kick was not dealt with by the Waratahs, and Tom Cusack was on hand to gather the loose ball and dive over for the opening try.
There wasn’t much joy for the visitors for the next 20 minutes, the Waratahs kicking two penalties and Andy Muirhead seeing yellow for a professional foul in the red zone.
Poor discipline continued to put the Brumbies on the backfoot, and in the 23rd minute ‘Tahs hooker Tom Horton darted over for their first try of the game.
Will Harrison’s extras meant it was now 13-5 in favour of the Sydneysiders, and they weren’t finished scoring with Muirhead in the bin.A quick tap and a perfect kick saw James Ramm run home unopposed, heaping pressure on the Brumbies.
Things got worse for the Brumbies when they lost both James Slipper and Noah Lolesio through injury.
The bleeding would stop in the 34rd minute however, as Folau Fainga’a crashed over from the rolling maul, and the comeback was on.Beautiful footwork from Kuenzle, Lolesio’s replacement put the Brumbies on the front foot again and Rob Valetini picked a perfect line to make it 20-15.
Kuenzle’s conversion meant it was 20-17 going into the break.
The Waratahs added two more penalties in the second half through Harrison, retaking the ascendancy.
A cagey affair, neither side could make the telling blow.
Step up Issak Fines. With tired bodies everywhere, the dynamic halfback found a gap and dived over for the winner, in just his second game of Super Rugby.
Kuenzle’s cool conversion sealed the victory, and the Brumbies hung on for what was their 5th win in a row against the Waratahs.
Plus500 Brumbies 24: (T: Tom Cusack, Folau Fainga’a, Rob Valetini, Issak Fines; C: Bayley Kuenzle 2) def NSW Waratahs 23