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Waratahs season goes from bad to worse as Wallaby star injured

By AAP
Hayden Thompson-Stringer of the Waratahs looks dejected after a Brumbies try during the round seven Super Rugby Pacific match between ACT Brumbies and NSW Waratahs at GIO Stadium, on April 06, 2024, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

The NSW Waratahs’ campaign has gone from bad to worse, thrashed by their fierce rivals the ACT Brumbies while losing star Wallabies prop Angus Bell to a potential season-ending foot injury.

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Four Noah Lolesio penalty goals and three second-half tries saw the Brumbies hold off the at-times stubborn Waratahs 40-16 on Saturday night and make it 12 straight wins against their nearest enemies.

But it is the Waratahs (1-6) counting the cost of their latest defeat, with Bell suspected to have again suffered big toe ligament damage that has hampered him across the past two seasons.

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It was the last thing his side needed after battling to stay with the Brumbies and trailing just 9-6 until conceding a try in the final seconds of the first half.

“It doesn’t look good, it looks like the same toe injury he suffered in round one last year,” NSW coach Darren Coleman said.

“He’s pretty devastated. There wasn’t much talking, there was a bit of hugging and crying.

Match Summary

4
Penalty Goals
3
4
Tries
1
4
Conversions
1
0
Drop Goals
0
113
Carries
77
7
Line Breaks
3
14
Turnovers Lost
17
5
Turnovers Won
9

“He’s pretty shattered by it all, but we’ll hold out a little bit of hope, the doctor said … the pop that he felt could have been something different.

“But at the moment it looks scarily like the same as his last injury.”

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Brumbies No.8 Rob Valetini broke the game open and confirmed his reputation as Australia’s scariest ball-runner, finding the ball in space and ploughing through five-eighth Tane Edmed to score on 50 minutes and put his side 23-9 to the good.

NSW finally broke through for their first try on 65 minutes via flanker Charlie Gamble, but the hosts had the answers and found space for flyer Corey Toole and No.8 Charlie Cale to score and seal a bonus point.

With their season arguably on the line, the Waratahs did produce a stellar defensive first half to come within seconds of hitting the sheds trailing by just three points and having kept their opposition try-less.

Stifling the Brumbies’ trademark rolling maul, NSW survived four lineouts in their own 22m zone in the first 20 minutes without conceding a single point, and twice held ACT players up over the line.

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But in the final moments of the first half, a bustling carry from centre Tamati Tua off the back of a maul allowed halfback Harrison Goddard to cross for a 16-6 advantage.

The win meant the Brumbies hit their mid-season bye with a stellar 6-1 record and level on points with the Super Rugby Pacific’s leading duo in the Blues and Hurricanes.

They have won five straight games after copping a 34-point thrashing from the Chiefs in round two.

Turnovers

5
Turnovers Won
9
14
Turnovers Lost
17

“The score blew out there a little bit, but it was a really tough game for the boys, lots of physicality from the Waratahs,” ACT coach Stephen Larkham said.

“It’s just great to finish this block that way. We know we’ve got a long run now for the next block, but there’s a lot of things that haven’t gone right for us, we’ve managed to find ways to win the games through this period.

“That puts us in a really good position now to learn from our mistakes, hopefully get away from the game this week and then come back and really try and grow into the second half of the season.”

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