Hungry Lions lash Brumbies
Michael Rhodes (Gallo Images)
Canberra - The Lions put in a spirited, committed performance to defeat the Brumbies 29-20 in their own backyard to end a 16-year losing streak.
The Lions won for only the second time in 12 matches this season.
Alwyn Hollenbach, Michael Rhodes, Jaco Taute and Deon van Rensburg scored tries for the Lions, in last place in the South African conference.
The Lions were trailing 10-0 when tighthead prop Patric Cilliers was sinbinned on the advice of the assistant referee for a late, dangerous tackle on Brumbies' scrumhalf Josh Valentine, although replays indicated the tackle was neither late nor dangerous.
The South African side, inspired by flyhalf Elton Jantjies and their combative forward pack, then scored 22 unanswered points to give them enough of a buffer to snatch just their second win of the season.
"We gave away penalties, the game went slow and we let them back into it and for whatever reason it just seemed like we were pretty flat, I don't know what can you say," said Brumbies captain Matt Giteau, who was playing his 100th Super rugby game.
"We lost a lot of ball at the breakdown and everyone was looking for tries and we got away from the simple stuff we were doing well...and we just slipped away."
The Brumbies had opened the scoring with a try to hooker Stephen Moore, which flyhalf Giteau converted before he slotted the penalty when Cilliers was sinbinned.
The Lions were inspired with Cilliers off the field, with their pack prominent as they began their fightback.
Flanker Michael Rhodes scored a try after a sustained period of skirmishes close to the line before winger Deon van Rensburg crossed untouched after another prolonged period of attack.
Jantjies, who had converted Rhodes' try, could not repeat the feat from wider out and the Lions went into the break with a slim 12-10 lead.
Inside centre Alwyn Hollenbach scored an early second half try after a beautiful inside flick pass from Jantjies, who converted to give the Lions a 19-10 lead.
Jantjies and Giteau then traded penalties, before the Lions' flyhalf again displayed his sleight of hand when he slipped a pass to fullback Jaco Taute to score the bonus point try.
Winger Andrew Smith scored a late consolation try for the Brumbies after Giteau had sparked a counter attack from his own tryline, but the home side were unable to crack the defence again.
The loss was the ninth in 11 matches this season for the Brumbies.
Brumbies 20- Try: Stephen Moore, Andrew Smith. Conversion: Matt Giteau (2); Penalty : M. Giteau (2)
Lions 29- Try: Michael Rhodes, Deon Van Rensburg, Alwyn Hollenbach, Jaco Taute; Conversion: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalty: E.Jantjies
15 Pat McCabe, 14 Andrew Smith, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau (captain), 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Mitch Chapman, 5 Ben Hand, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Jono Owen/Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Ma'afu/Jono Owen, 18 Mark Chisholm, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Henry Speight
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Butch James