Updated: 06/29/2014 01:03 | By Agence France-Presse

Waratahs finish top of Australian conference

The New South Wales Waratahs clinched the Australian conference and also went top of Super Rugby overall with a comprehensive 39-8 win over the ACT Brumbies in Sydney on Saturday.


Waratahs finish top of Australian conference

Benn Robinson catches the ball during a training session in Sydney on July 5, 2013 - by William West

Michael Cheika's side scored five tries to one in their bonus-point victory to take over top spot from South Africa's Coastal Sharks who had a bye this weekend.

With the top two teams hosting semi-finals on the second week of next month's play-offs, the Waratahs are in pole position heading into their final two regular season games against the Otago Highlanders and the Queensland Reds.

It was a commanding performance from the Waratahs, who are bidding for their first Super Rugby title after finishing runners-up in 2005 and 2008.

The 31-point winning margin was not far short of their biggest win over the Brumbies of 34 points set three years ago.

Winger Alofa Alofa scored two tries with others going to Wallabies Benn Robinson, Bernard Foley and Wycliff Palu.

Foley kicked four conversions and a penalty while Kurtley Beale landed a penalty.

The injury-hit Brumbies were restricted to just one try with Jesse Mogg outjumping his celebrated rival fullback Israel Folau to score in the first half, while Christian Lealiifano kicked a penalty goal.

The Waratahs played some cohesive rugby to lead 14-5 at halftime and outscored the Brumbies in the second half 25-3.

It was the first time the Brumbies had conceded a bonus point on the road since 2011.

The Waratahs paid a price for their handsome win with skipper Dave Dennis suffering a suspected anterior cruciate ligament injury just before halftime and is likely to be out for an indefinite period.

Wallaby flanker and skipper Michael Hooper, who took over the captaincy from Dennis, said the Waratahs were looking to take their momentum into the play-offs.

"I was very proud that we went to the 80th minute and keep putting points on right to the last minute," Hooper said.

"It's a feature that's come into our game this season and one we want to stick with if we want to be competitive in the finals.

"We said we wanted to be top two at the start of the year and we're on track for that, so we have two games to go."

Brumbies' skipper Ben Mowen said his team had played some moments of championship rugby.

"We were not consistent enough and the Tahs were very good tonight but we played a great opening 30 minutes in some of the best effort we've had all year," Mowen said.

"The Tahs were outstanding tonight and all their big guys stood up and performed really well and they'll go on."

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