Wallabies Stirling Mortlock and Clyde Rathbone scored tries on either side of half-time as the ACT Brumbies beat the Waikato Chiefs 21-15 in their Super 14 rugby match yesterday.
Mortlock converted his own 10th-minute try and kicked a penalty to provide all of the Brumbies' points as they took a 10-5 half-time lead.
Rathbone scored in the fifth minute of the second half and flyhalf Julian Huxley, taking over the goalkicking from Mortlock who suffered a concussion in a first-half tackle, slotted two crucial penalties to seal the win.
Waikato outscored the Brumbies by three tries to two with winger Sosene Anesi scoring twice and replacement Lelie Masaga adding a late try which cut ACT's margin to 18-15 with eight minutes remaining.
Huxley had already split the teams with a penalty from 52m in the 47th minute and his short-range penalty three minutes from full-time sealed the match.
Mortlock remained on the field after being stunned in a heavy tackle but gave up the goalkicking to Huxley and surrendered the captaincy to Wallabies veteran George Gregan.
"Stirlo got a head knock due to a bad pass from me but he's a good bloke and he didn't make a fuss of it," Gregan said. "It was a good, tough game all round. It always is against the Chiefs because they're very disciplined and they come at you hard."
The Brumbies were the better team throughout the first half, achieving in patches the steady continuity play which has always been their hallmark. It was from a series of controlled phases that Mortlock scored the fourth-minute try that opened the scoring.
His conversion and a 10th-minute penalty gave ACT a 10-0 lead but Waikato hit back with a 22nd-minute try to Anesi. Rathbone extended the Brumbies' margin shortly after half-time and Huxley's massive penalty gave them an 18-5 lead.
Anesi dashed 95m for an intercept try in the 64th minute, slashing the lead to 18-10, and Masaga's try left the match in the balance. Poor goalkicking cost the Chiefs while Huxley's accuracy, and his sound tactical kicking from flyhalf, was pivotal.
Wallabies veteran Jeremy Paul played his 100th Super 12 or 14 match for the Brumbies in the town in which he was born.
"It means a lot to reach the milestone here, especially to mark it with a win," Paul said. "I think we lost my first match and my 50th so it was good to get a win at last."
"Stirlo [Mortlock] came over to me after the game and said `congratulations on the 100th but I can't remember it.' That's a real friend."
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