Lachie Lonergan has downplayed his role in a last-ditch try that helped the Brumbies steal a 29-23 Super Rugby Pacific win over the Western Force at Canberra Stadium.
Having given up the lead three minutes from fulltime, the Brumbies needed a scything run and perfect pass from Tom Wright to clinch the match with Lonergan scoring to be the beneficiary of the winger’s brilliance.
But Lonergan said executing his match-winner was simply a matter of “catching the ball and putting it down”.
“I didn’t have to do much, I was just hanging on the inside there and Wrighty did everything,” he said.
“I just ran a dummy line, then I just looked to my right and Wrighty was streaking away down the sideline. He did all the hard work.
“At training we always talk about supporting line breaks, so when you see one you just sprint and try to do the best you can to support.
“Luckily enough I was in the right spot at the right time.”
It completed a rollercoaster afternoon for the Brumbies where they scored first via Wright after Noah Lolesio’s poise and creativity put him clear.
But they were controlled by a surging Force early, laying an extra 100 tackles through the first half as the visitors carried the ball at a three-to-one ratio, while Toni Pulu scored a try to start the second stanza to give the Force a 16-10 lead.
The Brumbies’ big men took over in a 10-minute second-half span, with Folau Fainga’a and Rory Scott scoring identical tries where they capitalised on their side’s brutal rolling maul following lineouts deep in Force territory to grab a 22-16 advantage.
It was the 11th straight time the Brumbies have beaten the Force, a streak that dates back to 2013.
Having struggled at the lineout, had their backs to the wall through a scrappy first half and almost thrown away the victory late, Brumbies’ captain Allan Alaalatoa admitted the match review mightn’t be an easy watch.
“You’ve gotta be proud of the boys. We definitely weren’t perfect out there and we have a lot to prove, (but) as a whole we found a way to win,” he said.
“When we review the game, we’ve got to be hard on ourselves and understand how we can get better.
“As a forward pack we showed again our maul is powerful and we gave ourselves an opportunity late and came away with points.”
Having trailed 22-16, the Force looked to have pinched the points when Jake McIntyre crossed to score in the 77th minute, following a falling offload from Fergus Lee-Warner to put him through.
Force captain Feleti Kaitu’u said getting a sniff of victory only for it to be taken away, had left his side hurting.
“(It’s) pretty heartbreaking to get our noses in front there with a couple of minutes to spare and for it to be pulled from under us,” he said.
“It hurts, but it is the first game of the season and it’s important that we keep our heads up and move on to the next week.”
Reflecting on the dominant first half where his side couldn’t find a try after being held up in goal twice, Kaitu’u stressed the importance of taking opportunities when presented against quality sides.