Brumbies tame Cats

The CA Brumbies have fallen desperately short of a bonus point win in their first appearance at Canberra Stadium this season, making a furious start to the match before running out eventual 28-7 winners over the Cats.

The Brumbies started the match in stunning fashion, racing to a 25-0 half-time lead after breaching the opposition try-line three times in the opening thirty minutes.

The win maintained the Brumbies unbeaten start to the 2006 season, however they have yet to muster a single bonus point from their opening four matches.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, Mark Gerrard and Stirling Mortlock scored five-pointers for the Brumbies, while the Cats lone try came through fullback Earl Rose.

Despite trailing by a lofty margin at the break, the Cats dampened the excitement of the 19, 059 Canberra Stadium crowd by scoring the sole try of the second half.

Mark Gerrard, assuming goal kicking responsibilities for the match, opened the scoring for the home team in the fourth minute with a penalty goal.

George Gregan was awarded Man of the Match, playing a hand in two tries including the first, which was scored by fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper.

New recruit Dan Heenan made the initial bust which led to the try, streaking 25m down field before Gregan popped a difficult pass to Ashley-Cooper who dived over in the right hand corner. Gerrard missed the conversion to have the home side up 8-0 after as many minutes.

Then it was Gerrard himself, in his finest performance this season, who layed on a tremendous solo try.

Attacking the short side, Gerrard kicked along the ground for himself and chased hard for forty metres, beating the covering defence to kick ahead again before regathering to run away untouched to the try-line. Matt Giteau's conversion from in front made the score 15-0 inside fifteen minutes of play.

Flyhalf Tiaan Snyman missed the Cats' first opportunity to score when he missed a relatively easy penalty shot in the eighteenth minute.

In what had been a blistering first half display from the Brumbies, the Cats appeared powerless to stop the navy blue juggernaut.

When Stirling Mortlock strolled through a yawning gap from a beautifully delivered pass from Stephen Larkham to score the third try ten minutes prior to the break, it appeared a mere formality that the home team would scoop the bonus point and rack up a monster score along the way.

However the Brumbies second half performance was quite a contrast.

In a mistake-riddled half, the Brumbies mustered just three points through a Mark Gerrard penalty goal two minutes after the break.

Fatigue appeared to set in for the travel-weary Brumbies, while the mistake rate began to climb.

The Cats muscled their way back into the contest, denying the Brumbies on several occasions as the home team fought desparately to crack a fourth try.

Rose scored a consolation try to finally put his side on the scoreboard with two minutes remaining, swooping on a loose pass by Brumbies reserve half Patrick Phibbs to produce an eighty metre solo effort where he grubbered ahead twice before regathering to score under the post.

In a bruising contest, the Brumbies lost fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper early in the match with an ankle injury and Radike Samo to a shoulder injury on the stroke of full-time.

Flanker Daniel Heenan was left with blood streaming from his face after a collision with the elbow of the Cats' Ernst Joubert.

As the full-time siren sounded, players from bothed teams dropped to their hands and knees, showing their fatigue after an extremely physical match.

The Brumbies temporarily jumped to first place on the competition table, with the Hurricanes and Crusaders to play on Saturday.

CA Brumbies 28 (Adam Ashley-Cooper, Mark Gerrard, Stirling Mortlock tries; Gerrard 1 conversion, 3 penalty goals, Matt Giteau conversion) defeated Cats 7 (Earl Rose try, Tiaan Snyman conversion) at Canberra Stadium, AUS.