That left the Brumbies with 13 players on the field for the final play, as referee Graham Cooper mistakenly sent Rory Scott from the field for a shoulder charge minutes earlier when he meant to send Lachlan Lonergan to the sin bin.
While the Waratahs remain winless, there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
Just five days after the NSWRU board gave Penney his marching orders, NSW produced their best performance of the season.
The reigning Super Rugby AU champions had won 10 of their last 11 starts against NSW. That remarkable run started after Michael Cheika, who watched on in the SCG stands alongside Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, departed for the Wallabies.
Whether Cheika will fill the vacant coach position remains to be seen. The performance would have given any aspiring coach hope the Waratahs can again be a force in the competition.
There were many bright spots, which have been scarce throughout their winless start to the season.
The forward pack can hold their head high. They matched the Brumbies and regularly put the home side in a position to score points.
Gordon was man of the match in his return from injury. His playmaking, direction and cool head made a huge difference.
“With the limited caps that we’ve got in the squad ,to get someone who has half the amount of caps of everyone put together – having Jake just steadies the ship,” Whitaker said.
“Jack Grant’s done a fabulous job while Jake’s been injured, but at the same time just to have that leadership and direction is first class and he’s a classy player.”
Izaia Perese looked dangerous with almost every touch of the ball. Angus Bell’s first start since the Brumbies last belted the Waratahs was impressive. Will Harris was one of the Waratahs’ best.
The untried locks – Jeremy Williams and Max Douglas – churned through plenty of unfashionable work.
In the first half, those bright spots were erased by some shambolic defence.
The Brumbies’ three first half tries – to Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead and Folau Fainga’a – all came from set pieces.
Trailing 24-10 at the break, Waratahs fans must have had a sense of deja vu.
Cusack was shown a yellow card for repeat infringements six minutes after play resumed but the home side didn’t capitalise on the one-man advantage.
They did capitalise on a charged down Ryan Lonergan box kick when Lalakai Foketi pounced and popped a pass to Harrison.
The five-eighth scored and gave NSW a chance of completing an incredible upset, trailing 24-17 with 14 minutes to play.
When Ramm scored, it was more than a chance.
But the conversion sailed wide, Harrison cast a forlorn figure and the search for a win continued.
“He’s disappointed. He’s a competitor and he wants to win. And he feels he’s let the team down,” Whitaker said of Harrison.
“But I think everyone has said to him that we had plenty of opportunities to win that game. Goal kickers win you games. They’re not the ones losing you games.
“He will take it hard but that’s because he’s a competitor. That’s why we love him.”
If this match was any guide, the Waratahs won’t have to wait much longer.
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Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.