‘Sudden death CA Brumbies’ do it again

 For a second consecutive week, the CA Brumbies have scored a last-minute win, tonight claiming the prized scalp of the Crusaders, 18-16, at Canberra Stadium.

After a Christian Lealiifano drop goal steered the side home against the Highlanders last week in Dunedin, tonight it was Stirling Mortlock’s turn. With CA/Dataflex Man of the Match Mark Gerrard leveling the scores at 16-all with a try three seconds from full time, Mortlock drilled home the conversion from 15 metres in from the touchline to take the emphatic victory from the competition’s reigning champions.
CA Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles said he was pleased with his side’s approach to come from behind late in the match.
“Two weeks in a row we’ve shown a lot of character,” he said. “We’re well aware that we’ve still got a few things to work on but at this time of year attitude and character are two key ingredients for a win and we’ve shown that.
“We backed our systems and got ourselves back in the game and if [Mortlock] had missed [the last-minute conversion] I wouldn’t have been that disappointed because we’d ground the game out and got the try we needed, but I was pretty confident he was going to put it over.”
Colin Slade and Gerrard traded early penalty goals before Crusaders outside centre Casey Laulala intercepted a loose CA Brumbies pass on the 50-metre line to outsprint the converging defence and establish an 8-3 lead after 18 minutes.
CA Brumbies flanker George Smith helped tie the scores at the 34th minute when he found himself in space at first receiver before passing off to Christian Lealiifano who stepped through the clutching arms of two Crusaders defenders to cross for his first try of the season.
A Stephen Brett penalty goal on half time gave the visitors an 11-8 advantage at the break with Mortlock again locking the scores with a penalty of his own in the 55th minute. However, the deadlock was short lived with Crusaders lock Ross Filipo silencing the 17,501-strong crowd two minutes later when he crossed in the left-hand corner. While Brett’s conversion was waved away, the try set up a 16-11 lead that the CA Brumbies tried to reduce first through an unsuccessful Mortlock penalty goal and then by peppering the Crusaders defensive line with a string of forward charges through the final 10 minutes.
It wasn’t until the final minute when – after another build up of pressure through the forwards – the ball was cast out to Gerrard who attempted to get outside the defence before stepping through and carrying Slade and Adam Whitelock across the line. Mortlock’s swinging conversion secured the four competition points and kept the CA Brumbies’ unbeaten start to the 2009 Investec Super 14 in tact.
The win was a fitting celebration for an evening of fundraising for the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal and the Balfour Family Trust – which included CA Brumbies players donating half their match payments, Brumbies Rugby contributing one dollar per spectator in the arena and players collecting on behalf of the Red Cross prior to the match.
The CA Brumbies will host the Western Force in their Week Three Investec Super 14 match at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, 28 February.
CA Brumbies 18 (Christian Lealiifano, Mark Gerrard tries; Mark Gerrard 0/1 conversion, 1/1 penalty goal, Stirling Mortlock 1/1 conversion, 1/2 penalty goals) defeated Crusaders 16 (Casey Laulala, Ross Filipo tries; Colin Slade 0/1 conversion, 1/1 penalty goal, Stephen Brett 0/1 conversion, penalty goal 1/1) at Canberra Stadium, Canberra.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (Aus)
Half time: Crusaders 11-8
Crowd: 17,501
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 11. Francis Fainifo (51st minute)
17. Ben Alexander for 1. Nic Henderson (54th minute)
20. Joshua Holmes for 9. Patrick Phibbs (54th minute)
19. Peter Kimlin for 6. Julian Salvi (55th minute)
18. Sitaleki Timani for 5. Mark Chisholm (68th minute)
1. Wyatt Crockett
2. Corey Flynn
3. Ben Franks
4. Isaac Ross
5. Ross Filipo
6. Kieran Read (c)
7. George Whitelock
8. Thomas Waldrom
9. Andy Ellis
10. Colin Slade
11. Kade Poki
12. Tim Bateman
13. Casey Laulala
14. Jared Payne
15. Stephen Brett
16. Jason Macdonald
17. Bronson Murray
18. Michael Paterson
19. Nasi Manu
20. Kahn Fotuali'i
21. Ryan Crotty
22. Adam Whitelock
Investec Super 14 Week Three
CA Brumbies v Western Force
Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Saturday, 28 February 2009