A strong second-half comeback from Victoria gave it a 31-24 win over John I Dent club Easts in the curtain raiser to the CA Technologies Brumbies Super Rugby fixture with the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Victoria trailed by 14 points with 20 minutes to play but stormed home with tries to Tomu Mataika, Afa Amosa and David Hardisty to give it a confidence boosting seven-point victory.
Easts looked to have wrapped up the win with a double from inside centre Jimi Crompton, including a length of the field intercept to give his side a 14 point lead but the Victorian side proved to strong in the final stanza.
After a sluggish start from the Victorian side the forwards took control of the ball in the 11th minute and were rewarded with a try to flanker Conway Bradey who was at the back of an free-flowing rolling maul.
Penalty goals to Easts fly half JD Stephenson in the 14th and 23rd minutes kept Easts in the contest as the Victorian side wasted a number of first-half opportunities including dropping the ball over the line.
Excellent lead up work from Easts half back Robbie Lavery, who had an excellent first half, put Crompton over in the dying stages of the first half giving his side a 11-5 half-time lead.
The try was reward for aggressive goal line defence from the John I Dent club whose coaches would have been impressed with the effort shown in the first half.
On the other hand the Victorian coaches would have been ropable at the lack of patience shown in the attacking 22.
The match seemed to come alive in the second half with both teams willing to throw the ball around in search of points.
A 44th minute try to Victorian replacement back Tasesa Lalotoa put his side within one point but Easts immediately responded with another penalty to Stephenson to take the score to 14-10.
Victorian winger Tomu Mataika scored in the 61st minute to start his side’s comeback and when No 8 Afa Amosa barged over fly half Ben Jones slotted a pressure side line conversion to make the scored level with 10 minutes to play.
David Hardisty scored the match winning try in the 76th minute to complete an emphatic comeback which saw Easts throw the game away in the final twenty minutes.
Victoria 31 (Conway Bradley, Tasesa Lalota, Tomu Mataika, Afa Amosa, David Hardisity tries; Ben Jones 3 cons) beat Easts 24 (Jimi Crompton 2 tries; JD Stepehnson 4 pens; JD Stephenson 1 cons)