Brumbies and Stormers share spoils

The CA Brumbies have played out a 15-all draw with the Stormers in a scrappy affair at Newlands Stadium tonight to complete their two-match tour of South Africa.

The Brumbies crossed for two second half tries, to Al Campbell and Adam Ashley-Cooper, but despite keeping the home team try-less, were unable to walk away with the four competition points.

Flyhalf Peter Grant scored all fifteen points for the Stormers, which came from five penalty goals, while the Brumbies found the tryline twice after trailing 9-3 at half-time.

The Brumbies discovered early in the match the speed of rookie Stormers winger Rayno Benjamin when he kicked ahead and raced 40m, almost regathering to steal a try in the fifth minute, only to be denied by a desperate chase by George Gregan who booted the ball dead in goal.

Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant opened the scoring in the eighth minute with his first penalty goal to give the home side a 3-0 jump on the visitors.

He added a second penalty goal nine mintues later when the Brumbies were penalised for not releasing the ball in the ruck, stretching the lead to six points.

Stirling Mortlock opened the scoring account for the Brumbies just two mintues later, converting his penalty shot from 25 metres out to make it 6-3.

Grant however restored the six point advantage with his third penalty goal, leaving a try-less first half with the score at 9-3 to the Stormers at the break.

Both teams had squandered opportunities in the opening stanza though it was the Brumbies who were frustrated by a mounting penalty toll and ill-discipline with the ball.

The Brumbies had numerous opportunities in attacking position but made too many crucial errors, to be denied a first-half try.

The second half began in similar vain with the Stormers adding two more penalty goals to extend their lead to 15-3 after ten minutes of play.

Two minutes later the Brumbies were finally able to muster some points from a strong attacking movement. Playing to the right of the field the ball went to Stephen Larkham who popped an indside ball to Mark Gerrard who made the initial bust, carrying the ball 20 metres to the Stromers 15 metre line.

From there, the ball was played back to the left where Larkham showed the ball again on the inside before being taken to ground himself three metres short of the line.

Al Campbell picked the ball up from the ruck and dived through two defenders to reach over and score the try, which was converted by Mark Gerrard to close the gap to 15-10.

Gerrard was handed the kicking duties in the second half after Stirling Mortlock strained his right knee during the first half.

Defence has been a major strong point for the Brumbies to start the 2006 season and tonight was no different.
The visitors resisted several second half raids from the Stormers and for the second week in a row were able to prevent their opposition from crossing the line.

With sixteen minutes left to play, fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper levelled the scores with his maiden try for the Brumbies, finishing a classy backline move set up by star centre Matt Giteau.

With the Stormers defensive line charging up, Giteau caught the ball on the outside of Stephen Larkham and popped it back inside to a streaking Mark Gerrard who drew the winger Benjamin to send the Wallaby rookie over in the right hand corner.

Gerrard however missed the conversion from the sideline, denying the Brumbies of their first lead in the match.
The final fifteen minutes took on a similar shape to the start of the match, where both teams had their share of chances, but failed to mount any quality attack.

Despite remaining undefeated on their three-match tour, CA Brumbies Head Coach Lauire Fisher said that tonight's result was a disappointing one.

"It was certainly a disappointing performance and i don't think either side really deserved to win tonight, so I guess it was a fair result in the end" he said.

"We expected to do well tonight and we have come up with a pretty scrappy performance," he said.

"It was always going to be tough to follow up such a good perfromance against the Bulls last week, but the opportunties were there for us tonight and we just failed to take them."

"Having said that I feel we are still a long way from our best. It's only the end of February and you wouldn't expect to be at your best at this time of year. This team is going to grow throughout this competition and our best rugby is still ahead of us."

George Gregan was among the Brumbies best, asking several questions of the Stormers defence with the ball and producing an outstanding defensive effort both in the line and in cover.

The drawn result was the second in team history for the Brumbies, following their 28-28 stalemate against the Chiefs in Week 11 of last season.

CA Brumbies 15 (Al Campbell, Adam Ashley-Cooper tries; Stirling Mortlock penalty goal, Mark Gerrard conversion) drew with Stormers 15 (Peter Grant 5 penalty goals) at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, SA.