The University of Canberra Brumbies head into their three-week break a win clear of the Australian Conference after a tight victory over the Rebels, 27-19 in Melbourne on Friday night.
With nothing to lose, the Rebels threw the kitchen sink at the University of Canberra Brumbies but the Victorians couldn’t come up with the killer blow falling behind two tries to one.
Playing with an all-x-Brumby front row (Nic Henderson, Adam Freier, Jono Owen), Captain (Stirling Mortlock), goal-kicker (Julian Huxley) and general kicker (Mark Gerrard), the Rebels fought with plenty of emotion that almost spilled over on several occasions.
Peter Kimlin was outstanding for the University of Canberra Brumbies for the second week in a row, carrying the ball through countless phases and making a heavy impact in defence. He was joined by Stephen Moore and Robbie Coleman as two of the best on field, with the veteran hooker celebrating his 50th Brumbies Cap at AAMI Park.
Head Coach Jake White paid tribute to the Rebels who have recently beaten the Crusaders and pushed the Bulls to the brink at home in the last month.
“There are a lot of Wallabies in that side so to come here and get a result is pleasing. They really lift when they play here. We saw it when they played the Crusaders and the Bulls here over the last month,” White said.
“It’s a credit to this group of players that they are leading the Australian Conference. Heading into three weeks off on top of the log is something we are happy with.
“In one season we’ve gone from people saying those guys aren’t going to win a game, they’re inexperienced and it will be a long season to everyone wanting to knock us over. We saw that in the way the Rebels lifted from their match last week.
“But we’re comfortable with that and aware of where we sit.”
The match hit half time with the University of Canberra Brumbies maintaining a slender two-point lead after Jame Hilgendorf was denied a try by the TMO, much to the distain of the vocal Melbourne crowd.
Hilgendorf slid over the line but referee Keith Brown and his TMO partners could not find conclusive evidence the ball had been grounded.
Former Brumby Owen was binned in the 23rd minute, leaving his side one man short for the guts of the first half. Owen was determined to turn in a complete performance for his new side after being released by the University of Canberra Brumbies earlier in the year.
The only five pointer of the first half came from University of Canberra Brumbies centre Andrew Smith who found himself on the end of a clever movement to score left of the uprights. And while his try was not converted, penalties to Jesse Mogg and Zack Holmes gave the University of Canberra Brumbies a skinny two-point lead, 14-12 going into the break.
Second half tries to Coleman and speedster Cooper Vuna as well as a handful of penalties kept the scoreboard ticking over but it wasn’t enough for the Rebels as they eventually fell for their second-last home game of 2012.
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA BRUMBIES 27 (Robbie Coleman, Andrew Smith tries; Zack Holmes con Holmes 3, Jesse Mogg 2 pens) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 19 (Cooper Vuna try Julian Huxley con 4 pens) at AAMI Park. Referee: Keith Brown. Crowd: 12,422
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ruaidhri Murphy (replaced by Scott Sio)
2. Stephen Moore
3. Ben Alexander
4. Scott Fardy (replaced by Fotu Auelua)
5. Leon Power (replaced by Fotu Auelua)
6. Peter Kimlin
7. Michael Hooper (replaced by Colby Faingaa)
8. Ben Mowen (c)
9. Nic White (replaced by Ian Prior)
10. Zack Holmes
11. Joe Tomane
12. Pat McCabe
13. Andrew Smith
14. Jesse Mogg (replaced by Henry Speight)
15. Robbie Coleman
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Scott Sio
18. Fotu Auelua (replaced by Scott Fardy)
19. Colby Faingaa
20. Ian Prior
21. Henry Speight
22. Tevita Kuridrani