Springbok fly-half Morne Steyn returned to his best goal-kicking form as Northern Bulls beat Australian Capital Territories Brumbies 36-34 in a Super 15 match at Loftus Versfeld Saturday.
Steyn kicked 26 points, landing seven penalty goals, a drop goal and a conversion to enable the Bulls to win despite being outscored by five tries to two in the southern hemisphere provincial championship match.
He went into the game with an unusually low success rate of 39 goals from 55 attempts this season, but missed only one long-range penalty and a conversion attempt from the touchline against the Brumbies.
The Australian side, coached by former Springbok World Cup-winning coach Jake White, took two bonus points for their try-scoring effort and a narrow defeat.
"A lot of positives come out of it," said Brumbies captain and flanker Ben Mowen. "One or two things go our way and we're away. I was really happy with our attacking game."
Brumbies surprised the Bulls with two tries within three minutes early in the first half, but seemed well beaten when the home side led 33-13 late in the second half.
But the visitors finished strongly, scoring three more tries in the last 11 minutes.
"We've got some work left on our defence," admitted Bulls captain and eighthman Pierre Spies, "but we did enough to get the win."
Bulls led 6-0 within seven minutes through Steyn's first two penalty goals. But with virtually their first touch of the ball the Brumbies hit back in the 10th minute when flanker Michael Hooper won the ball at the back of a line-out and it was passed quickly down the line for right wing Henry Speight to score in the corner.
Three minutes later fly-half Christian Lealiifano set up a try for Jesse Mogg, looping around his centres to make the extra man and cutting through the defence before sending out a long pass for the full-back to score.
But the Bulls led 19-13 at half-time with a converted try by left wing Bjorn Basson sandwiching two more penalties by Steyn against a single successful kick by Lealiifano.
After another Steyn penalty and a drop goal by the fly-half, Brumbies suffered what was effectively a killer blow 18 minutes into the second half following an apparent knock-on by Steyn.
Most of the players, including ball carrier CJ Stander, paused but there was no whistle from referee Marius Jonker and the big flank ran 40 metres to score.
Undaunted, Brumbies produced a storming finish with centre Andrew Smith, replacement scrum-half Ian Prior and replacement hooker Anthony Hegarty scoring tries.© ANP/AFP