Toole impress as Brumbies beat Tahs in first trial with new boss Larkham

Sat, Feb 4, 2023, 11:01 AM
by AAP
Corey Toole scored a double for the Brumbies during their win over the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images
Corey Toole scored a double for the Brumbies during their win over the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

The ACT Brumbies have hit the ground running under new coach Stephen Larkham, grinding out a 31-26 against the NSW Waratahs in Griffith.

His first game in charge since taking the reins from Wallabies-bound Dan McKellar, Larkham's Brumbies scored three second-half tries to seal the campaign-opening win.

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With heavily-rotated squads from both sides meaning the contest will offer practically no formline for their Super Rugby Pacific round one clash on February 24, each team will have been impressed with strong displays from some off-season additions.

Australian Rugby Sevens talent Corey Toole turned in the most eye-catching display, the winger scoring an impressive first-half try and adding another in the second with flashy footwork making him one of the Brumbies' better creative options throughout the game.

But NSW would have been thrilled with the return of former Wallaby star Tolu Latu from French side Stade Francais.

The hooker came off the bench in the second half and hit the scoreboard quickly, showing what he might add to the Tahs' pack this season.

As if proving they'd lost nothing from McKellar's departure, the Brumbies powered over from his trademarked rolling maul to open their account, while Toole's brilliant hand to a Declan Meredith grubber got them in front early.

The Waratahs scored either side of that double through Harry Wilson and Te Tera Faulkner, but two quick Brumbies' tries to start the second half gave them some breathing room.

Young NSW fullback Ben Dowling scored a great try late in proceedings courtesy of a brilliant ball from Jack Bowen.

Off-season ACT signing Jack Debreczeni impressed in the halves with Ryan Longergan, the five-eighth making his case to lock down a spot in the Brumbies' 23 for the coming season with stylish play-making in the second half.

The Tahs also got back flanker Lachie Swinton for his first run in a year, having missed considerable time dealing with nerve damage to his shoulder.

New Wallabies boss Eddie Jones was in attendance, although he had to wait until the second half to see a number of his national team troops in action.

Both sides started without most of their regular players, Charlie Gamble, Ben Donaldson and Tane Edmed among the starters for the Waratahs while Ed Kennedy and Rory Scott were familiar faces for the Brumbies.

They each emptied the bench in the second half, the Brumbies unleashing Wallabies talent including Lachie Lonergan and Darcy Swain.