Five star Waratahs race to top
Waratahs moved to the Super Rugby summit on Saturday with an emphatic 39-8 victory against Australian conference rivals the Brumbies at the ANZ Stadium.
With only two rounds of regular season action to play, it was a significant marker from Michael Cheika's side as they saw off last year's beaten finalists in convincing fashion and take control of the Australian conference.
Two tries in quick succession from Benn Robinson and Alofa Alofa saw the Waratahs amass an early 14-point lead, before Jesse Mogg superbly latched onto a cross-field kick to reduce the Brumbies' arrears to nine at the break.
The Waratahs remained in the ascendancy following the restart as fly-half Bernard Foley slipped through the Brumbies defence and Alofa added his second and bonus point for the hosts before Wycliff Palu added a gloss with the final move of the match.
An early bout of indiscipline from the hosts presented the Brumbies with an early opportunity to get on the board, but Christian Leali'ifano's curling effort under the gloomy Sydney evening sky failed to sneak through the uprights.
Having survived their early defensive scare, the Waratahs put their pack to effective use in the attacking third and after a series of phases prop Robinson crashed over the whitewash to end his 58-game try drought.
If the Waratahs' opening score came virtue of fine team organisation and cohesion, their second minutes later was a display of individual brilliance.
Winger Alofa snatched a Brumbies pass inside his own half before accelerating 60 metres to cross in a fantastic try and fly-half Foley added his second conversion as the Waratahs to a 14-point lead.
The Brumbies riposte was equally as show-stopping as Leali'ifano launched a precision high, cross-field ball in the direction of Mogg and the full-back produced a moment to savour, as he became one of the few men to beat Israel Folau in the air before touching down in the right corner.
After making a sluggish start to the first period, Waratahs flew out of the blocks in the second half and immediately won a penalty from the scrum, which Foley converted into three scoreboard points.
Leali'ifano cancelled out the efforts of his opposite number with a penalty of his own, but the Waratahs remained in the ascendancy as they remained entrenched in Brumbies territory.
Despite losing the aerial duel to Wallaby rival Mogg, Folau underlined his world-class label with an almighty drive towards the try line, only to be denied by the TMO after carrying five men down field with him.
The relentless Waratahs were undeterred by the ruling as Foley raced through the Brumbies line moments later, before adding his own conversion.
Alofa then dove over in the right corner for his second after some nifty footwork and a neat offload from Folau as the Waratahs claimed an all-important bonus-point, which sees them take a three-point lead over second-placed Sharks.
Waratahs finished with a flourish as Palu burrowed over in the left corner after another fantastic team move to round off a commanding performance from Sydney-based franchise, who are careering into the play-offs.