Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Hurricanes leave it late to squeeze past Brumbies

AP , WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

PHOTO: REUTERS

Thomas Waldrom scored a try after the final hooter to give the Wellington Hurricanes an 11-10 win over the ACT Brumbies in another low-scoring Super 14 rugby match yesterday.

Waldrom broke from a ruck in the last act of a drab match, to burst through the Brumbies' previously resilient defense to score an unconverted stoppage time try.

The Hurricanes' only touchdown decided the match which the Brumbies had led 7-6 at half-time and 10-6, under steady pressure, through the game's last 13 minutes.

The loss was the Brumbies' second on the hooter this season, after their 17-15 loss to the Blues in the tournament's second round, and was the Hurricanes' second last-gasp win, after a 39-32 win over the Waikato Chiefs two weeks ago.

"It's the second time this has happened to us. The Blues beat us on the bell a couple of weeks ago, now Wellington has done it to us. It's heartbreaking really built the boys will come back from it," said Brumbies captain George Smith.

The Brumbies had earlier broken a two-match try-scoring drought to take a lead which endured, on both sides of half-time, for a total of 49 minutes.

Lock Adam Wallace-Harrison took advantage of a numerical advantage when All Blacks center Ma'a Nonu was in the sin-bin to give his team the lead with an 18th minute try, the Brumbies' first since the tournament's opening round.

The only other points in the match came from kicks: a conversion and a penalty to Brumbies' fullback Julian Huxley and two penalties to Hurricanes flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth. The 21-point scoreline followed the Brumbies' 6-3 win over the Queensland Reds and the Lions' 9-3 win over the Canterbury Crusaders in last week's third match.

Yesterday's match was once again dominated by the referee, in this case South African Craig Joubert who blew a constant stream of penalties for perceived offenses at breakdowns.

Joubert's performance is likely to increase scrutiny of the influence of referees on matches this season and to broaden a debate led last by Reds' coach Eddie Jones, who was fined for his observations.

Waldrom was consistently one of the Hurricanes' best and strongest players yesterday, posing a consistent threat to the Brumbies' defensive line. His try was a late reward for hard work and continuous enterprise.

"I wanted to put in 80 minutes and getting on the board was terrific," he said. "I think it was the heart of the team that saw us through."

"It was nerve-racking at the end there and a bit hard to take," Hurricanes captain Tana Umaga said. "But the boys pulled through and showed the character we've had this season and have developed over the last few seasons. It was great to have another win at home."

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