CA Brumbies start season with bonus point win

 The CA Brumbies have kicked off their 2009 Investec Super 14 season with a 33-31 bonus point win over the Highlanders at Carisbrook tonight.                                                                          

Having fought their way back from a 19-0 deficit, the CA Brumbies stole the victory with a last minute drop goal to flyhalf Christian Lealiifano.
CA Brumbies Head Coach Andy Friend said he was pleased with his side’s composure in the tight contest.
“We showed a lot of character and that’s the sign of a good side. When you’ve got a team with a lot of momentum coming over you at the end and away from home, to show the patience and the resolve to kick that last goal was a great sign.
“I thought the physicality, that was lacking last week, was there again. I thought we got a platform from our set piece. We made a couple of system errors in our defence and the Highlanders, to their credit, were good enough to break us. But overall I was very pleased.”
With both sides wearing black armbands and respecting a moment’s silence for the victims of the Victorian bushfires, it was the Highlanders who got off to a flying start, scoring three tries through Jason Shoemark, Fetu’u Vainikolo and an excellent individual effort to flyhalf Daniel Bowden, to race away with 19 unanswered points in as many minutes.
However, as the match settled the CA Brumbies reclaimed some momentum when lock Mark Chisholm was held up over the line before Stirling Mortlock steamed onto a Mark Gerrard pass to crash through for his 50th Super Rugby try in the 28th minute. 
Gerrard converted and added a penalty goal 10 minutes later to enable his side to trail by 19-10 at the break before Mortlock continued to stamp his authority on the match in the second half. With the second term just two minutes old and the visitors camped on the Highlanders’ line, the CA Brumbies inside centre hit and spun away from two would-be defenders to power over for his second try of the night.
Six minutes later Lealiifano offloaded in traffic to send Adam Ashley-Cooper on a 20-metre run to the line before Mortlock landed a pinpoint cut-out pass on the chest of Gerrard to see his fullback stride away to give his side a 30-19 advantage at the 54th minute.
With the match seemingly slipping away, the Highlanders controlled the ball in the final period allowing Chris King to cross with eight minutes remaining and Jason Rutledge scoring to take a 31-30 lead with three minutes remaining.
However, the CA Brumbies’s forwards ability to grind the ball into the Highlanders half late in the game allowed Lealiifano’s drop goal to guide his side to their first five-point win of the season.
The CA Brumbies return to Canberra Stadium next Saturday (21 February) to tackle the 2008 Investec Super 14 Champions, the Crusaders.
CA Brumbies 33 (Stirling Mortlock 2; Mark Gerrard, Adam Ashley-Cooper tries; Mark Gerrard 2/4 conversion, 2/2 penalty goal, Christian Lealiifano 1/1 drop goal) defeated Higlanders 31 (Jason Shoemark, Fetu’u Vainikolo, Daniel Bowden, Chris King, Jason Rutledge tries; Daniel Bowden 3/5 conversion) at Carisbrook, Dunedin.
Referee: James Leckie (Aus)
Half time: Highlanders 19-10
Crowd: Not announced
CA Brumbies
1. Nic Henderson
2. Stephen Moore 
3. Guy Shepherdson 
4. Ben Hand 
5. Mark Chisholm 
6. Julian Salvi
7. George Smith 
8. Stephen Hoiles (c) 
9. Patrick Phibbs 
10. Christian Lealiifano 
11. Francis Fainifo 
12. Stirling Mortlock 
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper 
14. Clyde Rathbone 
15. Mark Gerrard
16. John Ulugia 
17. Ben Alexander 
18. Sitaleki Timani 
19. Peter Kimlin
20. Joshua Holmes 
21. Matt Toomua 
22. Tyrone Smith
22. Tyrone Smith for 14. Clyde Rathbone (19th minute – blood)
14. Clyde Rathbone for 22. Tyrone Smith (29th minute – blood return)
20. Joshua Holmes for 9. Patrick Phibbs (54th minute)
17. Ben Alexander for 1. Nic Henderson (54th minute)
22. Tyrone Smith for 11. Francis Fainifo (70th minute)
19. Peter Kimlin for 4. Ben Hand (70th minute)
21. Matt Toomua for 14. Clyde Rathbone (79th minute)
1. Jamie Mackintosh
2. David Hall
3. Clint Newland
4. Josh Bekhuis
5. Hayden Triggs
6. Adam Thomson
7. Alando Soakai
8. Steven Setephano
9. Jimmy Cowan (c)
10. Daniel Bowden
11. Fetu’u Vainikolo
12. Johnny Leota
13. Jason Shoemark
14. Ben Smith
15. Israel Dagg
16. Jason Rutledge
17. Chris King
18. George Naoupu
19. Tim Boys
20. Sean Romans
21. Jayden Hayward
22. Kenny Lynn
Investec Super 14 Week Two
CA Brumbies v Crusaders
Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Saturday, 21 February 2009