History was made on Tuesday night when the University of Canberra Brumbies claimed a 14-12 win over the Lions at Canberra Stadium – the first provincial victory over the Brits on Australian soil in more than 40 years.
Taking the field with just 28 international caps compared to the Lions’ 580, not many gave the young Brumbies a chance at victory. But a try to Tevita Kuridrani in the opening half and three penalties to Jesse Mogg saved the Brumbies and sent the Lions to their first defeat of the 2013 tour.
Kuridrani was eventually named Man of the Match but up to 10 other players could have felt hard done by with no-one missing a beat throughout the 80-minute encounter.
Up against the world’s best scrum, the young front-rowers were outstanding, pushing their opponents back for the entire first half. Between tight-head Ruan Smith, hooker Siliva Siliva and loose-head Scott Sio, the scrum looked every bit an international powerhouse, good signs for a trio boasting just a handful of professional appearances combined.
Likewise the lineout was firing on all cylinders, Kimlin, Leon Poer, Scott Fardy and Sam Carter stealing plenty of ball and forcing Lions hooker and Captain Rory Best to throw wobbly line-outs for the first 40.
Scott Fardy, Colbya Faingaa and Peter Kimlin were outstanding at the breakdown and turned plenty of ball for the Brumbies while Jesse Mogg, Matt Toomua and Ian Prior controlled the game nicely with a pin-point kicking game.
Head Coach Jake White said that win over the Lions would be remembers for many years to come.
“It’s a massive result, this is a very young group of players and when we got together 18 months ago I don’t think that any of us would have dreamed that we would get this far in such a short space of time,” White said.
“I appreciate how big, how important these Lions tours are. This is something these young players will enjoy and I hope it helps our club move forward. I want people think our club is made of world beaters.
“It’s as good as it gets in rugby union. We are just going to enjoy the fact that this is a massive occasion for our group. We’ll enjoy that.”
After tit-for-tat shots at goal were waved away early, the Brumbies were the first on the scoreboard thanks to some magic work by centre combo Andrew Smith and Tevita Kuridrani.
Smith showed the ball inside before flicking the to Kuridrani, the Fijian flyer causing the defenders to collide before he claimed five points.
From there the game descended into a heated battle, with the Lions frustrated by lack of opportunities. Matt Toomua, Kuridrani and Smith did a superb job of shutting down the Lions backs who were hardly sighted.
The British and Irish Lions now travel to Brisbane where they will face the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday night.
Clinging tight the Brumbies rallied for the final 20 minutes as the Lions poured on the pressure. But even with champions Dan Cole, Owen Farrell and Toby Faletau on the pitch, the Lions couldn’t crack the Brumbies eventually submitting without scoring a single try.
University of Canberra Brumbies 14 (Tevita Kuridrani try Jesse Mogg 3 pens) bt British and Irish Lions 12 (Owen Farrell 2, Stuart Hogg 2 pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Jerome Garces. Crowd: 21,655.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Scott Sio
2. Siliva Siliva (replaced by Josh Mann-Rea)
3. Ruan Smith
4. Leon Power (replaced by Jordan Smiler)
5. Sam Carter (replaced by Etienne Oosthuizen)
6. Scott Fardy
7. Colby Faingaa
8. Peter Kimlin (c)
9. Ian Prior
10. Matt Toomua
11. Clyde Rathbone (replaced by Robbie Coleman
12. Andrew Smith (replaced by Zack Holmes)
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Josh Mann-Rea
17. JP Smith
18. Chris Cocca
19. Etienne Oosthuizen
20. Jordan Smiler
21. Mark Swanepoel
22. Robbie Coleman
23. Zack Holmes