Burke's haul floors ACT

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The Independent Online

Matthew Burke scored 25 points in a superb solo performance to lead the New South Wales Waratahs to a surprise 30-25 win over the ACT Brumbies in an all-Australian Super 12 match in Sydney yesterday. The Australian international full-back scored a try and kicked six penalties and a conversion against the competition leaders.

The Brumbies, whose only previous defeat was in the opening round of games, briefly took the lead midway through the second half but were denied a late victory by a defiant New South Wales defensive effort.

The Waratahs, who ended a three-game losing streak with last week's win over the Waikato Chiefs, began brilliantly, racing to a 9-0 lead after three early penalties by Burke.

The Brumbies suffered an early setback when their giant lock Justin Harrison went off injured, starving them of their usual line-out supply, before Stirling Mortlock opened their scoring with a penalty in the 24th minute.

No sooner had he cut the deficit to six points than New South Wales struck back with two quick tries. The winger Scott Staniforth scored in the right-hand corner before Burke dived over in the left after winning the race to the ball from a precise kick by the scrum-half Chris Whitaker.

ACT recorded their first touchdown just before the interval when their full-back Andrew Walker scored his eighth try of the tournament to cut the half-time deficit to 21-8.

Stirling and Burke traded penalties before the Brumbies went ahead for the only time with two tries in four minutes. The No 8 Jim Williams burrowed his way over after a series of phases, then ACT's loose-head prop Bill Young burst over from short range to put the visitors 25-24 ahead.

But the advantage lasted just two minutes as Burke put the hosts back in front with a penalty. Another penalty, five minutes later, effectively sealed the win. ACT almost pinched victory as they bombarded the New South Wales line in the final few minutes only to be denied by some tenacious tackling.

The Waratahs' captain, Jason Little, said it was a huge performance from his side to halt ACT's five-match winning run. "When you're in control of the ball, things open up for you," he said. "Our defence tightened up and we didn't let them get too much through us."

The Super 12's bottom club, South Africa's Bulls, suffered another heavy defeat, going down 40-7 to the Chiefs from New Zealand in Rotorua yesterday. The Bulls' lack of discipline soon led to penalties and inside 22 minutes Loki Crichton had kicked the third-bottom Chiefs into a 9-0 lead. Roger Randle rounded off the first half with the Chiefs' first try after a break from Todd Miller with Crichton converting for a 16-0 interval lead.

Two tries in quick succession from the No 8 Deon Muir and Miller helped extend the home side's lead to 33-0. The lively scrum-half Deon de Kock scooted over for the Bulls in the 57th minute but Mark Ranby restored the big lead with a last-gasp try.