Mortlock suffers unlucky break in CA Brumbies loss

CA Brumbies captain Stirling Mortlock is likely to miss between four and six weeks after breaking his hand during his side’s 38-20 loss to the Cheetahs at Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein.
X-rays taken after the match confirmed that the Wallaby outside centre had broken the third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand after contesting a kick-off in the 36th minute.
Mortlock’s late first half departure was compounded by tries to the Cheetahs’ Falie Oelschig and Gavin Passens in the final seven minutes leading into the break.
CA Brumbies head coach Laurie Fisher said the Cheetahs’ brace of tries and subsequent 14-0 half-time advantage was a frustrating result after his side had created a number of opportunities in the first stanza.
“I thought we’d done enough to be ahead but [two tries before half time] rocked our confidence and gave was massive swing which gave them an enormous boost,” he said. “At their home ground with the support of a home crowd, it was going to be challenge for us from there.”
The match could have panned out differently for the CA Brumbies when Adam Ashley-Cooper bust through the Cheetahs’ defensive line in the third minute before drawing fullback Bevin Fortuin and sending Julian Huxley for an unimpeded run to the try line. However, referee Paul Honiss called the play back for and alleged obstruction on a Cheetahs player.
Fisher said the CA Brumbies were guilty of failing to capitalise on their expansive rugby.
“When you’re away from home you’ve got to take your opportunities,” he said. “We had a couple early, one was knocked off on the referee’s decision, the others we didn’t execute. We worked hard for no pay and they scored twice before half time which gave them some momentum. One or two things that we did in the first half gave them a sniff and then they played out of their skin in the second half.”
Huxley got the CA Brumbies on the board minutes into the second half through a long-range penalty goal before the Cheetahs struck back with tries to Richard Strauss and an airborne Phillip Burger.
Trailing 28-3, Ashley-Cooper continued his excellent mid-season form when he broke the Cheetahs’ line 60 metres out before running around his opposite number, Fortuin, and outpacing Burger to the line to score an outstanding individual try.
A CA Brumbies comeback appeared imminent when lock Mark Chisholm burrowed his way across the try line three minutes later only to have Cheetahs captain Juan Smith seal the win for the home side with a five-pointer of his own with eight minutes remaining.
CA Brumbies replacement scrumhalf Patrick Phibbs closed the gap on full time when he took an opportune quick tap on half way, chipped over the retiring Cheetahs line and beat lock Corniel van Zyl to the ball to score. Huxley converted the try to complete the five-tries-to-three result.
The CA Brumbies back row of Stephen Hoiles, Julian Salvi and George Smith were strong around the park at the breakdown and general play while Chisholm took the ball forward for the visitors throughout the match.
Gene Fairbanks and Clyde Rathbone (foot), who continually took the ball passed the gain line with venom, also left the field late in the match. Their availability for the CA Brumbies’ match against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday will be assessed during the week.
Cheetahs 38 (Falie Oelschig, Gavin Passens, Richardt Strauss, Phillip Burger, Juan Smith tries; Willem de Waal 5 conversions, drop goal) defeated CA Brumbies 20 (Adam Ashley-Cooper, Mark Chisholm, Patrick Phibbs tries; Julian Huxley conversion, penalty goal) at Vodacom Park.
Referee: Paul Honiss
Half time: Cheetahs 14-0
Crowd: 17,830
CA Brumbies
1. Nic Henderson
2. Jeremy Paul
3. Guy Shepherdson 
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison 
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Julian Salvi
7. George Smith
8. Stephen Hoiles
9. George Gregan
10. Julian Huxley 
11. Mark Gerrard
12. Gene Fairbanks
13. Stirling Mortlock ©
14. Clyde Rathbone
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper
16. Saia Faingaa
17. Salesi Ma’afu
18. Peter Kimlin
19. Jone Tawake
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Peter Playford 
22. Francis Fainifo
13. Stirling Mortlock replaced by 22. Francis Fainifo (36th minute)
6. Julian Salvi replaced by 19. Jone Tawake (59th minute)
2. Jeremy Paul replaced by 16. Saia Faingaa (59th minute)
9. George Gregan replaced by 20. Patrick Phibbs (63rd minute)
3. Guy Shepherdson replaced by 17. Salesi Ma’afu (63rd minute)
14. Clyde Rathbone replaced by 21. Peter Playford (72nd minute)
5. Mark Chisholm replaced by 18. Peter Kimlin (72nd minute)
1. Os du Randt
2. Richardt Strauss
3. Jannie du Plessis
4. Rory Duncan
5. Corniel van Zyl
6. Hendro Scholtz
7. Juan Smith ©
8. Ryno van der Merwe
9. Noel Oelschig
10. Willem de Waal
11. Gavin Passens
12. Meyer Bosman
13. Ronnie Cooke
14. Phillip Burger
15. Bevin Fortuin
16. Ollie le Roux 
17. Wian du Preez
18. Kabamba Floors
19. Dewaldt Senekal
20. Tertius Carse 
21. Herkie Kruger
22. Marius Joubert
Super 14 Week Eight
CA Brumbies v Sharks at ABSA Stadium, Durban
Saturday, 24 March, 2007