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By Brumbies Media Unit
A penalty after the siren has sealed a three-point win for the University of Canberra Brumbies, with Christian Lealiifano landing the shot from 40 metres to sink the Bulls 23-20 on Saturday night.
In a Canberra Stadium slugfest, the Brumbies managed to cling to victory having held the lead up until the 78th minute. A Bulls try to winger J.J.Engelbrecht with two minutes to go looked to have settled the account with a draw but the Pretorians were penalised off the kick-off handing Lealiifano a chance to put them away.
The kick, which never looked like missing, had Brumbies fans reminiscing of Lealiifano’s 2012 match-winner against the Cheetahs at the same venue.
The Bulls played their signature style of grind-it-out rugby, putting all their effort into field position and penalties to keep the score ticking over. But unlike last week against the Stormers, the University of Canberra Brumbies managed to adjust their own game accordingly, eventually grinding the Bulls into submission for the first time since 2010.
“I thought at 20-13, with four minutes to play when we had a line-out in their half, after we really defended well and got a turnover on the edge, that would be enough to win it,” Head Coach Jake White said.
“That really reaffirms how tough this competition is, when you think you’ve got it won with minutes to go, but it’s not like that.
“I guess what I’m really proud of is that this team has shown that we can win the tight ones, that’s always a bonus. This may not have been our best rugby and as a coach you’re never fully satisfied, but to grind out a win like that is still pleasing.”
Lealiifano, Tevita Kuridrani and Scott Sio were the best for the Brumbies, with the bullocking prop walking away as Man of the Match. It was Sio’s third start in as many games providing valuable experience for the side’s youngest front-rower. Set to start from the bench, Sio replaced Ben Alexander in the starters jersey with the Wallaby tight-head suffering a virus in the backend of the week.
The Brumbies scrum came in for special praise, driving the Bulls pack all over the park. Referee Jonathon White blew the Pretorian forwards off the field and eventually binned prop Morne Mellett to the delight of the 13,735 fans on hand.
Forget the running of the Bulls, Saturday night’s effort showed a more sluggish side to the ferocious bovine beasts as they fought tooth and nail for every inch of territory Canberra Stadium has to offer.
The Bulls game plan to grind the Brumbies down was evident from the outset. Two tough shots at goal from both Morne Steyn and Nic White were waved away early but the Brumbies eventually opened the scoring with Lealiifano nailing three points from in front.
Steyn levelled soon after, but the Bulls were chopped back with Lealiifano nailing another two before the break. With the oranges cut and halftime beckoning, Robbie Coleman launched from close range, reaching out to score the Brumbies only try with just seconds remaining until the buzzer.
A try in the corner to Bulls flyer Jurgen Visser gave the visitors home, but that was dashed with more shots on goal to Lealiifano who ended the night with six from seven.
The Bulls worked hard to get back into the match and looked certain for a late draw, with Engelbrecht showing some electric pace to keep his side in touch.
But with Nic White holding the ball at the breakdown from the ensuing kick-off, Lealiifano stepped up to keep the Brumbies at the top of the table heading into round eight of the competition.
University of Canberra Brumbies 23 (Robbie Coleman try Christian Lealiifano 6 pens) bt Bulls 20 (JJ Engelbrecht, Jurgen Visser tries Morne Steyn 2 cons 2 pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Jonathan White. Crowd: 13,735
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephen Moore
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Ben Alexander)
4. Scott Fardy
5. Etienne Oosthuizen (replaced by Fotu Auelua)
6. Peter Kimlin
7. George Smith
8. Ben Mowen
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Joe Tomane
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Robbie Coleman
16. Siliva Siliva
17. Ben Alexander
18. Fotu Auelua
19. Colby Faingaa
20. Ian Prior
21. Andrew Smith
22. Clyde Rathbone
Brumbies v Bulls
Sat March 30 2013
Minute by Minute Stats
Start Time: 7.40pm
Playing surface condition: Perfect
Referee: Jonathon White
Crowd: 13, 735
Brumbies: 23 Bulls:20
Tries: 1 Tries: 2
Robbie Coleman (40th Min) Visser (49th Min), Engelbrecht (79th Min)
Lealiifano (0/1) Steyn (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Penalty Goals:
White (0/1), Lealiifano (6/6) Steyn (2/3)
Drop Goals:0 Drop Goals:0
Penalties For:14 Penalties For:12
Handling errors:5 Handling errors: 2
As it happened
2nd min: Bulls make the first handling mistake, knocking the ball on in their own half.
3rd min: Penalty to the Bulls for a Brumbies player not rolling away in the ruck. Bulls kick for touch.
5th min: Penalty to the Bulls on their own 22m line. They kick for touch.
6th min: Another penalty to the Bulls off the lineout. Morne Steyn is handed the ball to take a long range penalty goal.
7th min: Steyn misses the conversion. Score remains 0-0
9th min: Crucial penalty awarded to the Brumbies.
10th min: Knock on George Smith on halfway. Scrum awarded to the Bulls.
11th min: Great scrum push by the Brumbies to get the ball turned over.
12th min: Penalty to the Brumbies from the scrum, Brumbies opt to take long range penalty kick.
13th min: Nic White misses the penalty. Score remains 0-0
14th min: Penalty from the lineout to the Bulls for obstruction by a Brumbies player. They kick for touch.
15th min: The Bulls knock the ball on from the lineout. Scrum awarded to the Brumbies.
16th min: Brumbies are awarded a penalty from the scrum. The kick for touch fails to go out.
18th min: Penalty to the Brumbies 25m from their try line.
19th min: First points to the Brumbies, as Lealiifano converts the penalty.
Brumbies: 3 Bulls: 0
21st min: Penalty to the Bulls, Morne Steyn is again given the ball for a long range shot.
22nd min: Steyn Converts.
Brumbies: 3 Bulls: 3
23rd min: Great work in the ruck creates a penalty for the Brumbies. Nic White is given a 47m shot for goal.
24th min: White just misses the uprights. Score remains Brumbies 3 Bulls 3
28th min: Scrum is awarded to the Bulls for the ball being unplayable in the ruck.
31st min: Knock on by the Brumbies. Scrum awarded to the Bulls.
32nd min: Brumbies again win the scrum against the head. Penalty is awarded and they opt to again go for a penalty goal.
33rd min: Christian Lealiifano converts the penalty from the sideline.
Brumbies: 6 Bulls: 3
34th min: Another penalty is awarded to the Brumbies from the kick off. Brumbies kick for touch.
35th min: Penalty for the Brumbies. They opt to take the penalty kick.
36th min: Lealiifano converts the goal from 25m.
Brumbies: 9 Bulls: 3
40th min: Brilliant try to Robbie Coleman right on half time. After a strong set of phases, the ball was spread wide where Coleman glided through a gap to score.
Brumbies: 14 Bulls: 3
40th min: Lealiifano misses the conversion.
Halftime Brumbies: 14 Bulls: 3
46th min: Video referee referral on possible try to the Bulls but the replay shows a knock on. Score remains 14-3
49th min: Try to the Bulls winger Visser. Steyn converts.
53rd min: Penalty to the Bulls on halfway. They opt for a penalty goal.
54th min: Steyn converts the penalty from 50m.
56th min: Scrum awarded to the Brumbies on their 22m line for the ball unplayable in the ruck.
58th min: Penalty awarded to the Brumbies from the scrum and kick for touch.
58th min: Fotu Auelua replaces debutant Etienne Oosthuizen.
59th min: Brumbies knock the ball on from the lineout. Scrum awarded to Bulls.
61st min: Another knock on by the Brumbies. Scrum awarded to the Bulls.
62nd min: Penalty to the Bulls for George Smith being off side in the ruck. Bulls find touch deep in Brumbies territory.
63rd min: The ball from the lineout is called not straight. Brumbies are rewarded a scrum.
64th min: Penalty to the Brumbies and yellow card for Bulls prop Mellet. Brumbies kick for touch.
66th min: Knock on in midfield by Peter Kimlin, Bulls play the advantage and kicks the ball down field.
68th min: Bulls fullback Zane kicks the ball out of the full, lineout awarded deep into Bulls half.
69th min: Penalty awarded to the Brumbies 28m from goal. Christian takes the penalty kick.
70th min: Lealifano converts the penalty.
Brumbies: 17 Bulls: 13
74th min: Another penalty to the Brumbies. Christian Lealiifano converts the penalty goal.
Brumbies: 20 Bulls:13
77th min: Brumbies are awarded another penalty to escape a Bulls onslaught and kick for touch.
78th min: The Bulls are over. They spread the ball wide and winger Mapoe beats the Brumbies defenders to score in the corner.
79th min: Morne Steyn locks the scores up at 20 all with under a minute to go with a successful conversion.
80th min: Penalty to the Brumbies 40m from goal! Bulls player holding onto the ball in the ruck. Christian Lealiifano steps up to try and win the game.
81st min: Lealiifano kicks the goal, Brumbies win on the buzzer!
Full Time: Brumbies: 23 Bulls: 20
The Western Force return to NIB Stadium for the second time this season and the Honey Badger wants sea of blue fans to “get your carcass on the chair”! In 2014 the Force had a slow start to the season, before finishing off strongly, and they will be hoping for a repeat after winning just one of their opening four matches this season!
The Queensland Reds are struggling with injury and form at present, and they’ve been handed another massive blow this weekend with James O’Connor (leg) & Lachie Turner (concussion) being ruled out. Suffering a 23-5 loss to the NSW Waratahs on the weekend, the Reds will run onto Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night looking to turn their season around after just one win to their name in the opening four rounds coming against the Western Force two weeks ago!