In a nail-biting Vodacom Super Rugby clash between the Cell C Sharks and Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday morning, we defeated the Australians 27-22 after coming from behind and then dominating the second half.
After the Brumbies took an early lead and threatened to run away with matters, the Cell C Sharks reined them in as they found their stride and before long, had asserted a measure of dominance by half-time. They continued this in the second half and after a tense last 10 minutes, managed to land the killer blow after the full-time hooter had sounded.
Henry Speight scored in the corner in the second minute of the game for the Brumbies, the try out wide proved to be a conversion angle too difficult to complete.
Talking the ball through nine phases, the Cell C Sharks came agonisingly close to scoring in the corner as Lwazi Mvovo was bundled into touch just short of the tryline. A few moments later, a TMO referral denied Tera Mtembu a try when the ball was adjudged to have gone forward.
But there was penalty advantage and Pat Lambie struck over his team’s first points, 10 minutes after the Brumbies try.
Scott Fardy added a second try, awarded by the referee before having to deny it on the advice of his assistant who confirmed an earlier knock-on by the home side.
A further 10 minutes of play with the Brumbies pushing hard for a second score, saw them managed to drive over from an attacking lineout, Josh Mann-Rea the man in possession at the back of the maul.
Hawera converted to give his team a 12-3 lead and at the half hour mark, the Brumbies were awarded a penalty right in front. The three points gave them a 15-3 lead, but they would fail to score again that half.
A penalty was kicked to touch and in a clinical display, the successful lineout led to a strong attacking effort with Beast Mtawarira managing to drive over from close quarters. Lambie converted and then added a second penalty two minutes from the break to bring us right back into the game.
There was no further scoring as the Brumbies held a two point, 15-13 lead at the break.
Taking the ball through 19 phases in a fantastic show of continuity, Pat Lambie added the three points that took us into the lead at the 45 minute mark.
Having ground our way back into the game, there was newfound confidence which nearly paid dividends after we pushed the Brumbies off their own scrum ball, got close to the tryline but were denied by a professional foul which led to a Brumbies’ yellow card.
Although the Brumbies managed to foil the next attempt, the following scrum led to a penalty to the Cell C Sharks who were applying all the pressure. But the touchline angle was just too much.
Still, there was confidence about our team who had built up a measure of self-belief that was enough to win the game.
Lambie added another three points as the game headed for the final quarter when the Brumbies were nailed for off-sides on defence , with the last 16 unanswered points scored by the visitors.
Another penalty gave us a seven point lead with the Brumbies now trailing 22-15 with 15 minutes remaining. But Tevita Kurindrani managed to score after the Brumbies moved the ball quickly through the hands to get his team’s third try. The conversion levelled matters with an agonising final 10 minutes to play.
Given the vagaries of the game, anything was possible.
The Brumbies threatened with the time winding down, but we repelled them. The ball went down the right flank, Curwin Bosch grubber the ball through, the Brumbies defender failed to hold on and Lukhanyo Am pounced to score the winning points.
There was jubilation all round and they will return to Durban full of confidence at a result hard-earned, but well-deserved.
Captain Pat Lambie was thrilled with the result, saying afterwards, “It was a great game of rugby, you could see the excitement after we scored, we’re thrilled. We had more possession this week which the boys enjoyed. Both sides hung in there but thankfully we scored at the death.”
The winning moment: 81st Min TRY for Lukhanyo Am