The NSW Waratahs have come from behind to claim victory in their Super W opener against the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium.
Trailing 10-0 early, the Waratahs took over with four straight tries and worked their way to a 31-17 victory on Saturday night.
Tahs coach Campbell Aitken said trailing was a new experience for the squad, but he was proud of the way they’d risen to the occasion.
“I was pretty pleased with the composure, we certainly spoke about being more aggressive … that expectation and desire should be a given when you wear the Waratahs jersey and I felt that was missing in the first half,” he said.
“We really emphasized that at halftime … we picked up and sort of went away.”
It took them a while to click into gear, with the Brumbies able to strike first on 16 minutes through persistent driving rain as Ash Hewson produced a perfect pass for Jemima McCalman to score under the posts.
The Brumbies surged on with power running from forward Grace Kemp driving them into attack, before Hewson slotted a penalty to extend their advantage.
The Waratahs would have been disappointed not to take points from the game’s opening 15 minutes where strong kicking from Pauline Piliae and Lori Cramer saw them camped deep inside opposition territory, but a sublime chip from the former found her side a lifeline, with Emily Chancellor scoring their first try.
Brumby Siokapesi Palu copped a yellow card early in the second half for a high shot and the Tahs immediately capitalised through a powerful rolling maul, which drove in Piper Dunk for a try and the lead.
And the visitors extended their advantage as they got running through Cramer, with the fullback able to pick out Mahalia Murphy to score in the corner for a 19-10 lead, before the powerful winger doubled up minutes later with a solo effort.
The Brumbies gave themselves a sniff with McCalman able to run onto an inch-perfect kick from Hewson and make it 26-17 with just four minutes to play.
But the Tahs quickly snuffed that out with Murphy able to gather a kick and score in the right corner for a third time to ice the contest.
Piliae was most impressive for the Waratahs with her poise able to pull the strings throughout, although Murphy’s hat-trick perhaps challenged her for player of the match honours.
“(Murphy) was special, she’s got that X-factor and she’s one of the players that we do rely on to give us that extra spark,” Aitken said.