Brumbies 28 – Lions 21.
There’s a glowing ember of the Super 14 game winning habit deep down in the Brumby soul that refuses to die, regardless of the number of caps that have gone out and fresh blood that’s come in. With this last minute win over the hapless but not totally hopeless Lions, the Brumbies have kept the possibility of the finals alive, through trademark composure and self belief.
The blueprint for their success is clear and George Smith spelled it out during the week – control the breakdown, at all costs. Without that, the phase play that the Canberrans pioneered becomes a liability under the ELVs. This week the plan, excepting a few notable lapses in concentration, worked. It will be interesting to see how it can stand up on the road, with less favourable reffing and stronger competition at the tackle.
Noteworthy performances this week:
- Mark Chisholm – I’ve been one of his critics as a backrower, but at second row he’s having a great season both running the line-out and blowing open defences. Some great runs in this game, including setting up the opening try.
- George Smith – maybe slightly quieter today, but still quality. On top of scavenging, he’s playing a big role in attack including at first receiver to take the hits and protect the ball
- Julian Salvi – has made the most of Hoiles’ injury layoff and may well snaffle Chapmans blind side spot with his high work rate
- Ben Alexander – while we should ban prop selection on running ability, he’s been phenomenal off the bench. Getting 10m past the gain line on every run, usually in traffic. Can he scrummage?
- Christian Lealiifano – Had a great running game today, which he capped off with the match winner. Still not directing play and distribution dodgy.
- Stirling Mortlock – Still not at 100% but still bulldozing through defenders and putting in big hits (see highlight of his hit on Ludik below)
- Ashley-Cooper – looking sharp, but it didn’t quite click for him today
- Gerrard – solid at the back with the boot and finished his try well
With this third straight win the Brumbies should end up just out of the top four and have the Stormers, Bulls and Force all away to come. If they can keep this composure, then at least 2 out of those 3 games are very win-able, and who knows?
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Mortlock, Gerrard, Lealiifano
Cons: Mortlock, Gerrard
Pens: Mortlock 2, Gerrard
For the Lions:
Tries: Grobbelaar, Rose 2
Cons: Rose 3
Yellow cards: Janse van Rensburg (61st minute – Lions – hands in the ruck)
Brumbies: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Tyrone Smith, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Julian Salvi, 7 George Smith, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Nic Henderson
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Salesi Maafu, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Ben Alexander, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Josh Holmes, 22 Sanualio Afeaki
Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Jannie Boshoff, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Joe van Niekerk, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Dewald Senekal, 3 JC Janse van Rensburg, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Eugene Maqwelana, 18 Franco van der Merwe,19 Wilhelm Koch, 20 Chris Jonck, 21 Rudi Vogt, 22 Dusty Noble.
Referee: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Brett Bowden (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)
Assessor: Wayne Erickson (Australia).