Lealiifano try saves Brumbies blushes
Flyhalf Christian Lealiifano scored in the dying seconds to give the ACT Brumbies a scrappy 28-21 win over the Johannesburg-based Lions in their Super 14 match in Canberra on Friday.
With the scores locked at 21-21 and the Brumbies’ semifinal hopes in the balance, Lealiifano burst through the attempted tackle of centre Jannie Boschoff to touch down under the posts and send the Canberra crowd into raptures.
The win moves the Brumbies up to fourth place on the Super 14 ladder, although they are likely to slip out of the top four by the end of the weekend.
The last-placed Lions had shocked the hosts by scoring in the opening minute of the game when Boschoff broke the line and unloaded to flanker Cobus Grobbelaar, who crossed beside the posts.
The Brumbies welcomed back influential skipper Stirling Mortlock from injury and he narrowed the gap to 7-3 with a penalty.
Another penalty made it 7-6 before Mortlock crashed over under the posts to make it 13-7 and send the Brumbies into the break looking increasingly dominant.
The Lions had looked incapable of breaking the ACT line for all but the first two minutes of the match, so it was a shock when they scored two converted tries in quick succession 10 minutes into the second half.
Fullback Earl Rose burst onto a quick ball from Walter Venter to touch down under the posts, then Louis Ludik put up a bomb, which the Brumbies let bounce only to see it go straight into the arms of Rose, who sped away for another converted try and a 21-13 lead.
Stung into action, the Brumbies came back hard and were rewarded when winger Mark Gerrard tip-toed down the touch line to score in the corner and get the Brumbies back to within three points.
The scores were even at 21-21 with 10 minutes remaining when Gerrard kicked a simple penalty after the Lions defenders were caught offside, and it looked like staying that way until scrumhalf Luke Holmes took a quick tap with seconds on the clock and fed the ball to Lealiifano for the match winner.
“That was probably the ugliest win I’ve been part of for a while,” Mortlock said.
“It was good to get there in the end, but geez we made it tough on ourselves.”
The Brumbies now head to Cape Town to take on the Stormers, while the Lions’ Australia-New Zealand road trip continues with a match against the Western Force in Perth. - Reuters.