Sharks outgunned in top of the table clash

The University of Canberra Brumbies have returned to the winners circle downing the Sharks in a nail-biter at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.

A match ruled by the forwards, both teams played for field position throughout the game with the wet conditions providing a platform to take to the skies.

No South African side had managed to win in Canberra since the Sharks last victory here in 2012, and despite the Durban based team leading the overall standings that record will remain intact until at least 2015.

In the end Sam Carter scored the only try of the match, with all other points coming from the boot.

At the back, Jesse Mogg, Robbie Coleman and Pat McCabe were fantastic, fielding more than 50 aerial attacks. The forward pack took the brunt of the game head on and delivered, turning early pressure at scrum in their own direction and eventually converting that momentum into points.  

Director of Rugby, Laurie Fisher said it was a tough but satisfying win.

“I thought our mastering of the conditions and style of game was magnificent tonight, I thought our back three were superb under the high ball, I don’t think we shelled one in that first half from the back,” Fisher said.

“I thought the high balls that Jesse put up in the first half were superb. In terms of grabbing the game by the throat and giving it to the Sharks, I thought we were fantastic.

“We’ve played against sides like that for three years now and if you try to play from your own half you’re in trouble. We stuck religiously to our game plan and the result was a good win against the competition's top team.”

In the tightest first half of the 2014 Super Rugby season, neither side could cross the line for the opening forty, with penalties the only outlet for points.

While Frans Steyn battled with the boot in the first half, belting a penalty kick dead, a kick-off out on the full and three penalties away from the posts, Lealiifano and White were on song and the home team led 6-3 at half time.

Kicks dominated play in the wet conditions and at the 35 minute mark the UC Brumbies had spent just 40 seconds in the opposition 22, to the Sharks 1 minute, 3 seconds.

The second half started with more penalties, both Steyn and Lealiifano nailed three points within the first seven minutes, making the score 9-6 with half an hour to play.

The UC Brumbies 40th kick proved to be a winner, Odwa Ndungane stumbling into touch. From there the UC Brumbies managed to stage one of the few attacking raids of the match, Pat McCabe finding space down the right flank, eventually being pulled down metres from the line.

The UC Brumbies built pressure, moving several plays back to the middle before White put Sam Carter into space to score the first try of the match after 65 minutes.

A huge swan dive proved a hit for the punters, and despite a last ditched penalty to the Sharks it sealed the win.

The UC Brumbies head to South Africa on Sunday for a two match tour where they will face the Cheetahs and the Bulls.

UC Brumbies 16
(Sam Carter try; Christian Lealiifano 3 penalties, conversion) bt Sharks 9 (Frans Steyn 3 penalties) at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night. Referee: Glen Jackson. Crowd: 11,615.

UC Brumbies
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephen Moore
3. Ben Alexander
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter (replaced by Fotu Auelua)
6. Fotu Auelua
7. Jarrad Butler
8. Ben Mowen (c)
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Robbie Coleman
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani (replaced by Andrew Smith)
14. Joe Tomane (replaced by Pat McCabe)
15. Jesse Mogg

16. Josh Mann-Rea
17. Ruan Smith                                           
18. Ruaidhri Murphy                                        
19. Jordan Smiler
20. Tom McVerry
21. Conrad Hoffmann          
22. Andrew Smith (replaced by Tevita Kuridrani – concussion tested)
23. Pat McCabe