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Pocock in doubt for Lions series

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Sportal.co.nz     10 Mar 2013     Getty Images

On a night when the Brumbies' faithful were out in force to welcome back the legendary George Smith on a three-month loan from Japan, the locals were left silent in the 13th minute when superstar Pocock was carried off the field after damaging his knee in a rather innocuous collision with Waratahs' centre Adam Ashley-Cooper.

The early word is an ACL, which could put the rest of Pocock's Super Rugby campaign and his British and Irish Lions experience in serious doubt.

But despite the gloom surrounding Pocock's premature departure, the Brumbies were at their grinding best in this game and the result was basically set up by a two-try first half that saw the hosts enter the sheds 21-6 in front at the break.

The crowd was given plenty to cheer in the final stages of the game when winger Henry Speight scored in the 73rd minute and a dazzling effort from replacement Robbie Coleman in the dying moments sealed the four-try bonus point win and a sixth successive victory against Australia opposition.

The result enables the undefeated Brumbies to maintain their position at the top of Super Rugby table, while the Waratahs now have just one win from their first three games ahead of next Friday night's clash against the Cheetahs at home.

There was further pain for the Waratahs emerging from this game, losing accomplished hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau in the first half with a leg injury.

Ill discipline cost the the Waratahs dearly in the early exchanges, with sharp shooting Brumbies centre Christian Lealiifano proving the major benefactor, courtesy of three penalty goals in the opening 10 minutes to clock up a 9-0 lead for his side.

The loss of Pocock and the emergence of crowd favourite George Smith ensured conflicting emotions for the 20,027-strong Canberra Stadium crowd, but their team kept on powering forward against an opposition that was afforded little room to move.

A scrum infringement from Brumbies' prop Ben Alexander allowed the Waratahs to post first points 17 minutes in via a 20m Brendan McKibbin penalty goal, but that's where the fun ended for the visitors in the first half.

The home side took full advantage of a disjointed Waratahs' line-out 25 minutes in when a perfectly-executed Brumbies' set piece 5m out resulted in a driving maul and a try to skipper Ben Mowen.

Lealiifano's conversion was astray from the sideline, leaving the Brumbies 14-3 in front.

But the promising Brumbies inside centre was on the spot to grab a five-pointer in the 33rd minute, collecting a deft Jesse Mogg grubber to dive over in the left corner for a converted try that would send the ACT team out to a 21-3 lead.

The Waratahs were given some hope for the second half when Brumbies second-rower Sam Carter was given a yellow card for his third infringement, handing McKibbin a simple penalty to send the visitors into the sheds 15 points in arrears.

The yellow cards continued in the second half when Wallaby props Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander were given their marching orders with 10 minutes to go.

With both sides down a man that just created some extra space for the home side to produce the match-sealer when Speight crossed in the left corner with seven minutes to go.

The highlight of the game came just before full-time when Mogg collected an ill-directed Israel Folau kick then surged up field before linking with Coleman who kicked and re-gathered to seal a bonus point for his side.