Stirling Mortlock became the all-time highest Super rugby point scorer as he led the Brumbies to a crucial win over the Blues in Canberra, scoring a try and kicking seven points.
The Brumbies overcame a lacklustre start to score five second-half tries and earn a bonus point, keeping their Super 14 semi-finals hopes alive with a 12-point win.
Both sides went into the match needing a win to have any chance of making the finals and it was the Blues who made the most of their opportunities in the first half.
The Blues took an early three point lead after No.10 Jimmy Gopperth slotted a penalty goal in the second minute before Brumbies five-eighth Matt Toomua landed a drop goal to level the scores 15 minutes later.
The Brumbies were often beaten at the breakdown and lacked any real penetration in attack, while the Blues tried to play a more expansive game and earned a 10-6 lead at the break.
However, it was a different Brumbies side in the second half with Mortlock leading the charge.
The Wallabies captain crashed over four minutes into the second half to kickstart the revival, before converting his own try and eclipsing former Crusaders five-eighth Andrew Mehrtens’ Super points-scoring record in the process.
The Brumbies secured a vital bonus point with another three tries in the next 15 minutes, taking them out to a 32-10 lead and putting the game out of the Blues’ reach.
Mortlock finished the match with 12 points to take his all-time points scoring record to 994 – four ahead of Mehrtens – before he was taken off after a crunching tackle by Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
The Blues scored another try in the 62nd minute to get back to 32-15 but the match was all but over and the Brumbies went further ahead with a fifth try to Sitaleki Timani five minutes from fulltime.
Mortlock said the points record was pleasing for him personally but it was the second-half team performance that was most satisfying.
“We were all aware we were a little bit off physically [in the first half], in particular at the breakdown,” he said.
“The physicality the forward pack showed in the second half was outstanding.”
He said he wasn’t sure at the time whether the try he scored secured the points record.
“So I made sure I got the kick – it was good that it got a nice bounce off the posts.
“It’s pleasing but I was asked about it earlier in the week and I said that I’d take the win first and foremost and it was excellent that we grabbed the bonus point and got a good win.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs passed a test of character by beating the Hurricanes 16-8 in a top-of-the-table contest in Hamilton last night.
Chiefs five-eighth Stephen Donald scored all of his team’s points, including three penalties in the opening stanza, which helped the Chiefs lead 9-8 at half-time.
The Hurricanes looked the better team in the first spell but only managed a try to David Smith and a penalty to five-eighth Willie Ripia.
But Donald then burst the game open almost immediately after the restart, slipping past prop John Schwalger before stepping fullback Cory Jane on his way to the try line. He converted his own try from in front of the goalposts to give the Chiefs the eight-point buffer.Tweet