Waratahs vs. Brumbies: Winners and Losers from Super Rugby Semi-Final
The Waratahs will host the Crusaders next week in Sydney to decide the 2014 Super Rugby champions.
Michael Cheika’s men outplayed the Brumbies with a stout defensive display that locked the Canberra men out despite enjoying long periods of pressure on the home side’s line.
Let’s have a look at the individuals who stood out.
Winner: Michael Hooper
Michael Hooper was irrepressible all night against the Brumbies, from his constant raids with the ball to his tireless defence, he was simply everywhere.
One huge hit on Jesse Mogg got the crowd to their feet in the first half but it was the effect Hooper seemed to have on his team-mates that most impressed.
For most of the second half, the Brumbies battered away at the home side’s defence, but Hooper’s men held firm, and the stand-in Wallabies skipper was at the heart of that effort.
Loser: Henry Speight
Much of the pre-game hype was focused on the form of Henry Speight, whose scintillating display against the Chiefs had helped propel the Brumbies to this semi-final.
He scored his side’s only try, but the muscular wing was unable to do any further damage to the Waratahs in Sydney, and injury ended his evening prematurely.
Loser: Christian Leali’ifano
You could forgive the miss from the touchline conversion attempt, but Christian Leali’ifano shanked a far easier penalty attempt from virtually in front of the sticks early in the second half.
The Wallaby centre is going through a bad case of the goal-kicking yips at present.
Winner: Kurtley Beale
Kurtley Beale poached the ball from Jesse Mogg and stole away for a try that distanced the Brumbies in the eighth minute of the second half.
It was a deserved try for a polished performance from the Waratahs No. 12 who has had an outstanding season.
His versatility has seen him shift around from 10 to 12 and to 15 throughout his career, and his nose for danger was often evident, with sound positioning to snuff out Brumby attacks when they opted for kicks in behind. A class act.