CA Brumbies’ Christian overthrows the Lions

The CA Brumbies have waited until the last minute to snatch a thrilling 28-21 win against the Lions in their Investec Super 14 Week 11 fixture at Canberra Stadium tonight.
With the scores locked at 21-all, flyhalf Christian Lealiifano burst onto a Josh Holmes quick tap, brushed past the tackle of Jannie Boshoff to score under the posts.
The win keeps the CA Brumbies’ finals hopes alive ahead of their three-week South African/West Australian road trip and temporarily moves the Canberra side into the top four with four matches remaining in the round.
CA Brumbies Head Coach Laurie Fisher, who marked his final home match at the helm and his 50th birthday tonight, praised the Lions in the three-tries-a-piece result.
“We go to South Africa still alive in the competition and hopefully we’ll go across unscathed,” he said. “We’ll continue to work through our set piece again. The Stormers will be very, very hard at the tackle and they take good line speed. Our composure is the biggest thing, a quality kick-chase game and just some good basics on the road.”
“[The Lions] marked up well, they were hard at the ball, slowed it down and put numbers in the line on both sides so there were no easy options for us. Whilst we kept bending them, we couldn’t break them and that’s a credit to their defence.”
The CA Brumbies had barely taken the field when Lions centre Jannie Boshoff broke through the defensive line in the second minute to send captain Cobus Grobbelaar over to afford his side an early 7-0 lead.
The home side responded with several promising passages but was unable to find the final pass to convert the pressure into tries. The CA Brumbies were forced to rely on the boot of captain and man-of-the-match Stirling Mortlock to get the side within one point by the 26th minute, courtesy of two penalty goals.
A bust from galloping lock Mark Chisholm gave the CA Brumbies field position within striking distance of the Lions’ line before Holmes held up his pass two phases later to allow Mortlock to crash through under the posts. The CA Brumbies outside centre converted his own try to take a 13-7 lead into the break.
While a bone-jarring Mortlock tackle on Louis Ludik may have stunned the Lions winger early in the second stanza, it did nothing to dampen the spirits of the visitors with fullback Earl Rose racing in two tries in four minutes to take back a 21-13 advantage by the 56th minute.
However, when JC van Rensburg fell foul of referee Kelvin Deaker and received a yellow card for hands in the ruck, the CA Brumbies utilised the one-man overlap to level the scores with fullback Mark Gerrard crossing for a try on the back of 15 consecutive phases before drilling home a penalty goal with 12 minutes remaining.
The final 10 minutes developed into a tough arm wrestle with neither team able to provide the match-winner until Lealiifano burst through with seconds remaining to record the CA Brumbies’ third consecutive win.
The CA Brumbies will travel to South Africa on Sunday before taking on the Stormers at Newlands Stadium on Saturday, 3 May.
CA Brumbies 28 (Stirling Mortlock, Mark Gerrard, Christian Lealiifano tries; Stirling Mortlock 1/2 conversions, 2/2 penalty goals, Mark Gerrard 1/1 conversions, 1/1 penalty goals) defeated Lions 21 (Earl Rose 2; Cobus Grobbelaar tries; Earl Rose 3/3 conversions, 0/1 penalty goals) at Canberra Stadium, Canberra.
Referee: Kelvin Deaker (NZ)
Half time: CA Brumbies 13-7
Crowd: 14,078
CA Brumbies
1. Nic Henderson
2. John Ulugia
3. Guy Shepherdson
4. Alister Campbell
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Mitchell Chapman
7. George Smith
8. Julian Salvi
9. Patrick Phibbs
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Francis Fainifo
12. Tyrone Smith
13. Stirling Mortlock (c)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper
15. Mark Gerrard
16. Saia Faingaa 
17. Salesi Ma’afu
18. Peter Kimlin 
19. Ben Alexander
20. Stephen Hoiles
21. Joshua Holmes
22. Sanualio Afeaki
20. Joshua Holmes replaced 9. Patrick Phibbs (19th minute)
22. Sanualio Afeaki replaced 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (30th minute – blood)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper replaced 22. Sanualio Afeaki (38th minute – blood return)
20. Stephen Hoiles replaced 6. Mitchell Chapman (46th minute)
18. Peter Kimlin replaced 4. Alister Campbell (46th minute)
16. Saia Faingaa replaced 2. John Ulugia (49th minute)
19. Ben Alexander replaced 1. Nic Henderson (58th minute)
17. Salesi Ma’afu replaced 3. Guy Shepherdson (58th minute)
1. Heinke van der Merwe
2. Willie Wepener
3. JC van Rensburg
4. Dewald Senekal
5. Gerhard Mostert
6. Cobus Grobbelaar (c)
7. Joe van Niekerk
8. Willem Alberts
9. Jano Vermaak
10. Jaco van Schalkwyk
11. Rayno Benjamin
12. Walter Venter
13. Jannie Boshoff
14. Louis Ludik
15. Earl Rose
16. Ethienne Reynecke
17. Eugene Maqwelana
18. Franco van der Merwe
19. Wilhelm Koch
20. Chris Jonck
21. Rudi Vogt
22. Dusty Noble
Yellow Cards:
3. JC van Rensburg (61st minute)
Investec Super 14 Week 12
CA Brumbies v Stormers
Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Saturday, 3 May 2008