Alexander great as CA Brumbies edge out Sharks

CA Brumbies loosehead prop Ben Alexander has spearheaded his side’s tough 24-22 win over the Sharks at Canberra Stadium tonight.

The ACT front-rower’s crossed for both of his side’s tries in a display built on excellent scrummaging, unrelenting defence and providing his side with some timely turnover ball on his way to man-of-the-match honours.

Despite Alexander’s tries within 10 minutes either side of the break, the CA Brumbies trailed 16-13 at half time before running out two-tries-to-one victors.

CA Brumbies Head Coach Andy Friend said the match provided some glimpses of what his side is capable of.

“Again, I thought we created a lot of opportunities that we didn’t finish,” he said. “They created some good opportunities too. I thought it was a really good game of football; two teams competing hard but we managed to get across the line.

“I thought we had a fair bit of running rugby there. We need to be a bit more complete with a few options off our set piece play but we created some good opportunities from our phase play, our scrum was outstanding, and when we quick-tapped and wanted to play we put them under a lot of pressure.”

Sharks flyhalf Andy Goode started the scoring with a 50-metre penalty goal in the 12th minute before doubling the advantage two minutes later with another three-pointer.

Giteau responded with a penalty of his own on the back of 12 phases in the 21st minute and locked up the score with his second in the 23rd.

The first try came in the 30th minute with the CA Brumbies continually peppering the Sharks’ line before Alexander collected the ball from the base of the ruck and drove over for the fifth try of his Investec Bank Super 14 career.

Giteau’s conversion gave his side a 13-6 lead that was quickly whittled away when Sharks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar exploited a yawning gap in the ruck defence to waltz over from 20 metres out in the 36th minute. Goode’s conversion and a penalty goal within a minute of half time afforded his side a three-point lead at the break.

Five minutes into the second term, Alexander was at it again. The powerful prop again picked the ball up at the back of the ruck and charged over to advance his side to an 18-16 lead. Giteau’s missed conversion – his first missed attempt at goal for the year – set up a seesawing second term with both flyhalves attempting to kick their way to the lead.

Giteau added a penalty goal in the 58th minute but it was Goode’s penalties in the 51st and 61st minutes that allowed Sharks to hold a one-point 22-21 lead.

The CA Brumbies went within a whisker to scoring their third try when fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper was denied in the corner in the 66th minute before Giteau put the final touch on the scoreboard three minutes later when he added a final and deciding penalty goal. In a near carbon copy to his try against the Waratahs last week, Sharks No.8 Ryan Kankowski intercepted a Josh Valentine pass off a lineout only to be ruled offside by referee Garratt Williamson. Giteau calmly slotted the opportunity with the CA Brumbies hanging on through some impenetrable defence and discipline play through the final 20 minutes.

The CA Brumbies travel to Auckland to take on the Blues at Eden Park on Friday, 19 March.

CA Brumbies 24 (Ben Alexander 2 tries; Matt Giteau 1/2 conversions, 4/4 penalty goals, Stirling Mortlock 0/1 penalty goal) defeated Sharks 22 (Ruan Pienaar try; Andy Goode 1/1 conversions, 5/5 penalty goals) at Canberra Stadium, Canberra.
Half time: Sharks 16-13
Referee: Garratt Williamson (NZ)
Crowd: 15,227

CA Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Salesi Ma’afu
4. Ben Hand
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Rocky Elsom
7. George Smith
8. Stephen Hoiles (c)
9. Josh Valentine
10. Matt Giteau
11. Francis Fainifo
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Stirling Mortlock
14. Pat McCabe
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper

16. Huia Edmonds
17. Guy Shepherdson
18. Justin Harrison
19. Mitchell Chapman
20. Patrick Phibbs
21. Matt Toomua
22. Tyrone Smith

22. Tyrone Smith for 13. Stirling Mortlock (40th minute)
16. Huia Edmonds for 2. Stephen Moore (66th minute)

1. Tendai Mtawarira
2. Bismarck du Plessis
3. John Smith (c)
4. Steven Sykes
5. Johann Muller
6. Jacques Botes
7. Willem Alberts
8. Ryan Kankowski
9. Ruan Pienaar
10. Andy Goode
11. JP Pietersen
12. Riaan Swanepoel
13. Adrian Jacobs
14. Odwa Ndungane
15. Stefan Terblanche

16. Craig Burden
17. Jannie du Plessis
18. Alistair Hargreaves
19. Jean Deysel
20. Keegan Daniel
21. Rory Kockott
22. Waylon Murray


Investec Bank Super 14: Week Six
CA Brumbies v Blues
Eden Park, Auckland
Friday, 19 March 2010

‘Stand As One’ and become a CA Brumbies member in 2010. Visit http://www.brumbies.com.au