Every game a grand final: Mortlock - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Every game a grand final: Mortlock

By Liam FitzGibbon 18/04/2009 03:32:33 PM Comments (0)

Stirling Mortlock says the Brumbies are ready to continue their "emotional and physical journey" towards the Super 14 finals after keeping their season alive in spectacular fashion against the Bulls.

The ACT side scored a thrilling a 32-31 win over the South Africans at Canberra Stadium on Friday night thanks to a late try from flyhalf Christian Lealiifano and conversion from Mortlock.

The emotion-charged, bonus-point win - achieved without injured fullback Mark Gerrard - came just two days after the funeral of teammate Shawn Mackay.

Since losing to the Sharks on the night Mackay was struck by a car in Durban, the Brumbies have won three in a row and have now moved within reach of the top four.

With four games remaining their finals dream is still alive, although they will just about need to win all of their remaining games, starting with next Saturday's tough away trip to Wellington.

But Mortlock believes his side will thrive under that pressure given what they've been through so far.

"The whole journey that this team's been on has been an experience both physically and emotionally," the Brumbies skipper said.

"We've put ourselves in the situation now where pretty much every game is a grand final.

"But I think that's a good thing for us.

"This group usually responds to pressure, so that's how we're mentally approaching every match.

"But it doesn't get any easier going over to play the Hurricanes over there in the cake tin (Westpac Stadium)... It should be a massive challenge and one we're really looking forward to."

Mortlock, who shifted to the wing in a reworked Brumbies backline, was crucial to the win on Friday night, kicking three conversions and two penalties.

He praised his team's spirit, but warned that would only get them so far unless they worked on the basics of their game, especially defence.

"There's a tremendous amount of spirit in this team," Mortlock said.

"But what we need to do is improve a lot of our basics of our game.

"But certainly underlying what we're doing, there's a huge amount of effort and spirit and effort which is great."

A sour point of the loss came from a suspension to prop Guy Shepherdson, who was banned for two matches on Saturday for striking Bulls lock Danie Rossouw with his knee in the 27th minute of the win.

Shepherdson will miss away matches to the Hurricanes and Queensland Reds but can return the following week against the Blues in Canberra.

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