Australia captain George Gregan booted a late drop goal to give the ACT Brumbies a 22-19 win over South Africa’s Investec Stormers on Friday and maintain their perfect start to the defence of their Super 12 title.
Both teams scored three tries and kicked two conversions apiece but Gregan’s 62nd minute drop goal proved the difference as the Brumbies recorded their third straight win of the season and handed the Investec Stormers their first loss.
Despite fielding an under strength team because of injuries to several key players including Wallabies Stirling Mortlock and Matt Giteau, the Brumbies raced to a 19-7 lead at halftime.
Henari Veratau scored the opening try in his Super 12 debut after finishing off a break by Stephen Larkham, test lock Radike Samo scored in the left corner then utility back Ben Batger dived over in the right corner after replacing Clyde Rathbone, who was helped off after being floored in a high tackle.
The Investec Stormers, semi-finalists last year, had opened their account with a try by the Springbok winger Jean de Villiers and a conversion by Gaffie du Toit but their poor discipline proved costly as two players were yellow-carded for foul play.
They pulled back to within seven points when prop Eddie Andrews pounced on a loose ball 10 minutes into the second half but Gregan’s snap goal pushed the Brumbies’ advantage back out to 10 points.
De Villiers crossed for his second try of the match and his fourth in three games this season to cut the margin to three points with 14 minutes remaining but the Brumbies defence held firm.
Brumbies (22) – Tries: Henari Veratau, Radike Samo, Ben Batger. Conversions: Stephen Larkham (2). Drop goal: George Gregan
Stormers (19) – Tries: Jean de Villiers (2), Eddie Andrews. Conversions: Gaffie du Toit (2)