UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA BRUMBIES 24 (Henry Speight, Pat McCabe tries; Christian Lealiifano 1 con, 4 pens) bt CHEETAHS 23 (Johan Goosen, Tewis de Bruyn tries; Goosen 2 cons, 3 pens) Referee: Keith Brown. Crowd: 12,377.
A Christian Lealiifano penalty after the siren and relentless work from the front row have handed the University of Canberra Brumbies a one-point win against the Cheetahs at Canberra Stadium, Saturday afternoon.
Finding themselves 13 points down early in the second half, the University of Canberra Brumbies lifted to post their second consecutive win, 24-23.
The University of Canberra Brumbies scrum dominated the Cheetahs, earning a penalty with three seconds remaining on the clock, which man of the match Lealiifano calmly slotted.
Celebrating momentous games were Pat McCabe, who returned from shoulder surgery and Ben Alexander who celebrated his 50th cap. Ian Prior also had cause for celebration, making his University of Canberra Brumbies debut in front of his home crowd fans on a perfect autumn afternoon.
“Those sorts of results you need to be happy, I mean there was a lot of talk in the change room that last year, we wouldn’t have won that one, we would have given up at half time,” White said.
“Those are the sort of games you need to win because they build confidence and momentum. They are so important when you’re trying to build a team together.
“It’s about the hard work that we’ve been putting in, all credit to the conditioning staff because coming back from 23-10 down to win the game is quite an achievement in itself.”
After Cheetah Johan Goosen opened the bidding with a penalty, the University of Canberra Brumbies first try almost went to Alexander, worming his way within inches of the chalk before playing it back to the outside backs. Just one play later, Henry Speight found himself in open space and strolled across for his first try of the season just two minutes into the game.
At that stage it looked as if the University of Canberra Brumbies would role the Cheetahs without too many problems, but a glut of errors, including eight drop balls in their own A and B zones, meant pressure was almost impossible to sustain.
It wasn’t long before the Cheetahs found themselves back in the lead, when Willie Le Roux weaved his way through traffic from within the University of Canberra Brumbies 22. The conversion was successful and with another shot from Goosen the Cheetahs shot out to a 13-10 lead going into half time.
The ACT based side had far more attacking opportunities in the opening exchanges, but fell behind thanks to the handling errors and turnovers at the breakdown.
The Cheetahs managed to swing momentum spending almost 15 minutes camped inside University of Canberra Brumbies territory, with solid defence from the likes of Alexander and Stephen Moore managing to keep the score board still.
For the second week running, fullback Jesse Mogg had the crowd on its feet making a series of line breaks deep into the Cheetahs territory. He and Lealiifano provided plenty of excitement for University of Canberra Brumbies fans, with Lealiifano’s kicking boots slotting five from six.
Scoring continued in the opening minute of the second half, when Cheetahs scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn capitalised on some thin defence out wide for a soft five-pointer. The conversion stretched the Cheetahs lead to 10, with Johan Goosen slotting them from all over the park.
Finally taking advantage of quality field position, McCabe was next on the scorers list finding himself on the end of a sweeping movement from the left pocket to the right.
Looking to mount another raid on the Cheetahs try-line, the University of Canberra Brumbies again relieved the pressure by giving away penalties. On the flipside, the Cheetahs were fairly clinical with their chances, making several clean line-breaks up straight through the middle of the home side’s defence.
But momentum again swang with fifteen minutes of the second-half played, the University of Canberra brumbies managing to keep the ball in their opposition’s half and repeat scrum penalties resulted in Lealiifano knocking another penalty over to bring the difference back to 5, the score being 23-18.
From there the University of Canberra Brumbies managed to apply sustained pressure, resulting in the two penalties which carried them to victory.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore (replaced by Anthony Hegarty)
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Ruaidhri Murphy)
4. Ben Hand (replaced by Scott Fardy)
5. Sam Carter
6. Ben Mowen
7. Ita Vaea (replaced by Michael Hooper)
8. Ben Mowen
9. Nic White (replaced by Ian Prior)
10. Matt Toomua
11. Henry Speight
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Andrew Smith
14. Pat McCabe
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Ruaidhri Murphy
18. Scott Fardy
19. Michael Hooper
20. Ian Prior
21. Zack Holmes
22. Joe Tomane
23. Jesse Mogg