A late try has enabled the unbeaten Brumbies to edge their Super Rugby AU clash with NSW Waratahs 24-23 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
A gallant defeat was no consolation for gutted NSW Waratahs captain Rob Simmons, who is demanding his rebuilding outfit not accept second best.
Even the Brumbies sympathised with the Waratahs after breaking their arch-rivals’ hearts with a nail-biting victory on Saturday night.
The Waratahs looked set to claim their first win in five outings against Australia’s 2018 and 2019 conference winners only to concede a gut-wrenching try four minutes from full-time.
Replacement halfback Issak Fines’ late game-breaker extended the Brumbies’ winning streak to six matches over Australian opposition stretching back to a loss to the Queensland Reds in March last year.
But it was also extremely cruel on Rob Penney’s rebuilding Waratahs, who dominated for much of the match at ANZ Stadium having been humbled 47-14 by the Brumbies last time around in Canberra in March.
But the Tahs paid dearly for conceding two tries in three minutes just before halftime that cut their 20-5 lead to just three points at the break.
And Simmons was in no mood to ponder the positives after the Waratahs’ inability to ice the game.
“We just need to find a way. There’s a lot of pats on the back for a loss there and it annoys me a bit. We lost the game. We need to find a way to win that,” Simmons said.
“There has to be some resilience there to show up again next week. It’s not going to be easy.
“We showed we’re a growing team. We’re on that trajectory but we’ve got to win. We can’t just keep saying ‘oh that was good’ – we lost a game. Do what you can to find it, but we’ve got to get a win.”
The Brumbies celebrated in the dressing room like they’d won the title but, in reality, the ‘Tahs let them off the hook after dominating the set pieces and leading for most of the match.
“The ‘Tahs were very good, a good young side. I take my hat off to them and you feel for them, to be honest. It was a tough slog,” said Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.
Brumbies five-eighth Noah Lolesio will be racing the clock to be fit to face the Western Force next Saturday night after limping off with a hamstring injury.
The Waratahs must pick up the pieces and prepare to host the Melbourne Rebels at the SCG on Friday night.