The Brumbies, despite their obvious disappointment in not scoring a bonus-point fourth try, produced a clinical performance to beat the hapless Stormers 26-13 in Canberra on Friday.
The scoreline flattered the bumbling Stormers outfit, with the visitors' only try coming from an 80-metre intercept by Gio Aplon, as the Brumbies were pushing for their fourth try. Even a 26-6 scoreline would have been flattering to the Stormers.
The Brumbies did everything right except bag a fourth try bonus point in what was a much improved performance by the Australian team.
Nearly every pass went to hand, while the work at the breakdown saw the home team snatch more turnover ball as easy as someone stealing candy from a baby. There was certainly a lot more urgency in the Brumbies attack, and whilst only three tries were scored - they can count themselves incredibly unlucky not to have bagged more.
The Stormers on the other hand were disappointing to say the least. Any hope of another eye-opening performance that was displayed against the Hurricanes last week, were quickly put to rest. Far too many turnovers, knock-ons, missed tackles, forward passes and avoidable penalties made 80 minutes a nightmare for the men from Cape Town.
After suffering two home defeats so far in the tournament, the home team had to deliver the goods in front of a packed Canberra crowd. They certainly gave their fans what they wanted to see and looked more and more like the threatening side they have always been known to be.
The Stormers will now have to go back to the drawing board and pick up the pieces that were left shattered on the Canberra Stadium floor.
Besides two line-out balls getting stolen, the home team were in control from the moment Steve Walsh blew his whistle to get proceedings underway.
Clyde Rathbone was a thorn in his former countrymen's side and went on several punishing runs in the first half, only to be denied inches from the line on all occasions.
The Brumbies did manage to cross over the whitewash ten minutes into the half after a superb break from full-back Adam Ashley Cooper down the left touchline. Springbok wing Breyton Paulse managed to slap down Ashley-Cooper's pass that was duly collected by Stormers fly-half Peter Grant. The pivot tried to clear his lines, but the kick was charged down by lock Mark Chisholm who managed to collect the ball and scamper over for the try.
Mortlock missed the tricky conversion, but made up for it five minutes later with a penalty kick for Paulse tackling a player off the ball.
Grant managed to put his team on the scoreboard and close the gap with a penalty of his own, but Mortlock made sure it wouldn't last long by using his blue boots to bag another three points moments later.
The Stormers were dealt a cruel blow after number eight Justin Melck was judged to have played the ball off his feet and slowing the game down.
The replay showed otherwise, but referee Walsh flashed his yellow card and the Stormers were not only down to fourteen men - but another three points down thanks to yet another penalty by Mortlock.
That put the score 14-3 to the Brumbies, though it could have been worse if Mortlock hadn't missed a dolly of a kick a few minutes later.
Grant showed that he can also do some work with the boot and kicked his second penalty of the match on the stroke of half-time. That was to be the last points the Stormers would score for a whopping 40 minutes.
The second half started a bit better for the visitors, however they still couldn't find a way around the Brumbies defence. This could partly be blamed on the flat Stormers backline that went backwards instead of forwards.
However, the Brumbies showed their visitors how it should be done after pressure on the Stormers backline resulted in Mortlock crashing over with three defenders hanging on for dear life.
With a string of Brumbies players lined up for the attack, Gregan decided to change direction and hand the ball to a charging Chisholm who made a good couple of meters before offloading on his inside to Mortlock for the try.
Mortlock failed to convert his own try, but the Brumbies were starting to pull away.
The third and the last try of the Brumbies came from some superb work from Ashley-Cooper once again just moments later. The full-back was in full flight and on the angle after taking a well timed pass from centre Gene Fairbanks. Ashley-Cooper bashed through two tackles and was in the clear with the tryline in sight. Paulse made a sorry attempt at bringing him down as Ashley-Cooper calmly brushed the winger off and dived over for the try of the match.
Mortlock made sure of the conversion this time round and gave his side a 20-point lead.
The Stormers were pretty much dead and buried at this stage and substitutions were made on a regular occurrence. The fresh legs helped them out a little bit, but silly errors after some good phases of play didn't help their cause.
Stormers and Bok star Schalk Burger showed his frustration on a few occasions by getting involved in some pushing off the ball, but that didn't help get points on the board for his team.
The Brumbies showed their intentions of going for the bonus point by opting for the touchline instead of three points. The Stormers can give themselves a pat on the back for denying the home team the pleasure of extra points, but the Brumbies can kick themselves for not executing their efforts into that vital extra try.
The Stormers really rubbed the Brumbies efforts in their face by having the last laugh through Aplon's 80-metre interception try after the hooter had sounded.
The Brumbies didn't manage to get the bonus point, but they could still manage some big smiles from a game well played.
Man of the match: To single out one man-of-the-match is very difficult after every Brumbies player put their hand up on this occasion. Gregan showed glimpses of his old excellence throughout the match. Mortlock had a decent day with the boot and penciled his name in the try-scoring sheet. George Smith was his usual self around the park, in other words - superb. And Mark Chisholm had quite literally a Stormer of a match. But our vote goes to Adam Ashley-Cooper. His powerful breaks, lethal sidesteps and brilliant vision (with and without the ball) was enough to cause the entire Stormers team to book themselves in for rugby therapy. Oh, and how can we forget that scintillating try!
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Chisholm, Mortlock, Ashley-Cooper
Pens: Mortlock 3
For the Stormers:
Pens: Grant 2
Yellow card: Justin Melck (Stormers, 28 - repeated infringements, hands at ruck)
Brumbies: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Gene Fairbanks, 11 Mark Gerrard, 10 Julian Huxley, 9 George Gregan, 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 George Smith, 6 Julian Salvi, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Jeremy Paul, 1 John Ulugia.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Nic Henderson, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Jone Tawake, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Anthony Faingaa, 22 Francis Fainifo
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Corne Uys, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Justin Melck, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Gerrie Britz, 4 Andries Bekker, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Egon Seconds
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand), Andrew Lindsay (Australia)
Television match official: Bradley Wahl (Australia)
Assessor: Wayne Erickson (Australia)