Replacement scrumhalf Patrick Phibbs scored a try to cap an emotional Super 14 victory for the ACT Brumbies against South Africa’s Stormers in atrocious weather conditions in Canberra yesterday.
Phibbs scored in the 60th minute and the home team held on for a 17-10 win to conclude a week in which lock Shawn Mackay died in a South African hospital.
The 27-year-old Phibbs went to high school with Mackay, who died last Monday in Durban after contracting a blood infection following surgery for injuries sustained when he was hit by a car.
Several players in the team huddle and on the replacements’s bench wiped away tears after the crowd at Canberra Stadium produced a minute’s applause before kickoff. Flags were at half-mast.
The Brumbies wore black armbands, as they will for the remainder of the season, while Mackay’s name, player number (118) and years of his life (1982-2009) were embroidered on each of the Brumbies’ jerseys.
The match was played in chilly conditions and driving rain and the only points in the first half came from Brumbies fullback Mark Gerrard, who slotted three penalties to give his side a 9-0 lead at halftime.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers produced a brilliant jinking run to get his side on the scoreboard in the 44th minute. Peter Grant converted the try before Gerrard scored his fourth penalty six minutes later.
Phibbs then slid over the line after a defensive error from the Stormers gave the Brumbies possession inside the visitors’s 22m area with 20 minutes remaining.
The scrumhalf was immediately mobbed by his teammates before he broke away and stared skywards for a few seconds.
■HIGHLANDERS V REDS
No. 8 George Naoupu squeezed over for a try with 12 minutes remaining to help the Otago Highlanders eke out a 24-19 victory over the Queensland Reds in Invercargill, New Zealand, on Saturday.
Lock Josh Bekhuis and winger Kendrick Lynn scored the other tries for the Highlanders, who recorded their third successive victory.
Flyhalf Matt Berquist converted all three touchdowns and added a penalty for the home team, who moved up to seventh (22 points) with the win.
The Reds had stunned the large crowd at Rugby Park by attacking from the opening whistle with superb interplay between backs and forwards sending flyhalf Quade Cooper over within 40 seconds.
Lock Hugh McMeniman barged through Otago locks Tom Donnelly and Bekhuis to score his side’s other first half try, converted by scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin, giving the Reds a 12-10 lead at the break.
Center Digby Ioane scored another well-worked try for the Reds with nine minutes remaining, but the Highlanders managed to produce an aggressive defensive effort, smashing the Reds in every tackle to snuff out any hope of a late victory.
■BULLS V WARATAHS
South Africa’s Bulls bounced back from two successive losses to grind out a 20-6 victory over the New South Wales Waratahs yesterday.
The Bulls, who had lost to the Otago Highlanders and Canterbury Crusaders after having previously won their first five games, moved into third place on 27 points.
The Waratahs also have 27 points, but slipped to fourth on points differential.
Springboks winger Bryan Habana scored a first half try for the Bulls, while tighthead prop Werner Kruger drove over in the second half after a sustained period of pressure on the Waratahs goal line.