Brumbies beat Rebels in the rain
Cape Town -The Brumbies went to the top of the Australian conference with a gutsy 20-15 Super 15 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Brumbies scored two tries to nil, but Mike Harris kept the Rebels in the contest with five penalty goals.
The Canberra-based team had less possession and territory but seized on the Rebels' errors to keep in front of the home side.
They spent just 14 seconds in Melbourne's attacking quarter in the first half and still managed to lead 13-6 at half-time thanks to a 20th-minute try by Wallaby centre Tevita Kuridrani with a move off a line-out.
The Rebels were still in the match in the final 10 minutes and recycled the ball for 17 phases after the fulltime siren, but were unable to get across the try-line and instead earned a penalty.
The thrilling finale ended when they turned the ball over in the next play.
The Rebels put the Brumbies' defence under pressure early on, but weren't able to capitalise.
Rebels winger Tom English was over the line but was called back after an earlier knock-on and then lock Luke Jones was held up over the try-line.
The Rebels closed the gap early in the second half to 13-9 through a penalty by Harris.
However they lost Wallaby backrower Scott Higginbotham to a yellow card for collapsing a maul.
The skipper had been warned by referee Steve Walsh in the first half to "sort your penalties out".
Straight after Higginbotham left the field, Brumbies flanker Jarrad Butler scored at the back of a rolling maul.
Butler almost got another try six minutes later in an identical move, but it was ruled he had dropped the ball across the line.
"I was very, very pleased that we got away with that win," Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said.
Larkham said he was proud of the desperation shown by his players to hold out the Rebels in the final stages making a total of 131 tackles to Melbourne's 49.
"Particularly in that last passage guys were clearly exhausted but they were pushing as hard as they could," he said.
"Last week, it was so disappointing to lose the way we did against the Chiefs and this week the guys never gave in."
Melbourne coach Tony McGahan focused on the positive that his team pushed another title contender to the wire.
"There were parts of frustration, frustration that couldn't get enough points on the scoreboard at the end," McGahan said.
"But I was really proud of the effort the lads put in. They were tremendous and we had great belief to be able stay in the contest against a strong side."
Rebels: 15 - Penalties: Mike Harris (5)
Brumbies: 20 - Tries: Tevita Kuridrani, Jarrad Butler; Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2); Penalties: Lealiifano (2)
15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu
15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Jesse Mogg