Rugby

Gritty Lions tough it out in Brumbies win

South Africa's Golden Lions won their third Australian tour game with a resilient 13-6 Super Rugby win over the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

The Brumbies conceded 17 turnovers, missed 11 tackles and made 10 handling errors © (AFP)

The Brumbies conceded 17 turnovers, missed 11 tackles and made 10 handling errors © (AFP)

CANBERRA - South Africa's Golden Lions won their third Australian tour game with a resilient 13-6 Super Rugby win over the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

The Lions scored the only try of the dour contest through Springbok Sevens star Kwagga Smith early in the second half after trailing the Australian conference leaders 3-0 at half-time.

It was only the Johannesburg-based Lions' second win in Canberra, but a victory based on an outstanding defensive effort and a battle of wills.

It was the Lions' biggest scalp on their Australian tour following a 24-15 win over the Western Force and 47-10 triumph over the Melbourne Rebels.

"It was a grind. Gee, it was a tough battle, the conditions were tough, the ball was slippery and we had to keep it tight, so I am extremely proud of the boys," Lions' skipper Warren Whiteley said.

"Credit to the Brumbies, they put us under pressure, they tested us at the set piece, it was a tough battle.

"We have got three wins on tour, it's a first for us and we're really proud of the team's performances over the last three weeks."

The stats bear out the Lions' stoic performance. They had just 40 percent possession, 44 percent territory and made 136 tackles.

The turning point came in the 54th minute when the Lions swooped on a loose pass inside their own half by Brumbies fullback Aidan Toua and Smith out-paced the defence in a 65-metre dash to the try-line.

Elton Jantjies kicked a conversion and a penalty while Andries Coetzee landed a penalty goal after the full-time siren.

The hard-fought four competition points protected the Lions' lead at the top of the South Africa 2 conference from the Coastal Sharks and strengthens their chances of hosting a home quarter-final.

It was the Brumbies' fourth straight defeat and yet somehow they still lead the mediocre Australian conference, with the NSW Waratahs having a bye this weekend.

The Brumbies were their own worst enemy, conceding 17 turnovers, missing 11 tackles and making 10 handling errors.

"We just didn't capitalise on our opportunities," Brumbies' captain Sam Carter said.

"We had plenty of line breaks and plenty of territory, but when it mattered we couldn't get the result, so you do that against quality opposition like the Lions and you're going to lose."

The Lions return home and will host the Northern Bulls next weekend, while the Brumbies go on the road and face the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.