Brumbies hold on in Brisbane thriller
Brumbies hold on in Brisbane thrillerSHARE
The Brumbies managed to hold on in the face of a fierce second-half onslaught from the Reds to secure a thrilling 23-20 win.
The Super Rugby Round Nine outing in Brisbane on Friday, while not the most aesthetically pleasing encounter, the result could go a long way to deciding the Australian conference.
It certainly cemented the Brumbies' position at the top of the Aussie totem pole, while it put them first in the global standings – for at least a day.
In the first half the Reds had real problems when trying to find holes in the Brumbies' defensive line, while the halfback combination of Will Genia and Quade Cooper were well below the expected standards – looking bereft of ideas.
The Brumbies were comfortable with a simple game plan that was based on solid defence and playing for territory – pouncing on the opposition's errors deep in the Reds' half.
However, the fortunes changed dramatically after the break, when the Reds started to dominate the forward exchanges and their back had more time and space with ball in hand.
In the end they had left themselves with just too much ground to make up and the Brumbies hung on for an invaluable win.
The opening score came from a Reds mistake. Robbie Coleman, who was racing down the left touchline, had put boot to ball – a kick that caused chaos among the Reds defenders. Quade Cooper was caught in possession and spilled the ball in a heavy tackle, with Scott Fardy picking up the loose ball and stretched over the line.
Quade Cooper (in the 11th minute) and Nic White (15th and 22nd minutes) kept the scoreboard ticking with penalties, before the Brumbies got their second try.
On the half-hour mark the Brumbies were rewarded for some sustained pressure. It was a great skip pass by Nic White, to Jesse Mogg, that opened it up – Joe Tomane rounding it off in the corner. White, who added both conversions, made it 20-3.
The Reds, now chasing the game, set a line-out – instead of taking an easy three points – and got reward in the form of a try from a strong maul. Cooper added the conversion to make it a 10 point game (10-20), which is how it stayed to the half-time break.
Early in the second half White made it 23-10 with his third penalty, as the emotions threatened to boil over.
Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore was lucky to escape sanction, after a vicious punch into the ribs of Eddie Quirk. It was a call by referee Steve Walsh that may be revisited and could even attract the attention of the citing commissioner.
And the Reds, – buoyed by some set-piece dominance, with replacement prop Jono Owen the catalyst – got their second try by shoving the Brumbies scrum over their own line. Eddie Quirk was the man who touched down.
Cooper added the conversion and a penalty soon afterwards to make it a three-point game with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The Reds desperately tried to conjure up another score, but a combination of their own errors and the Brumbies' defensive resilience kept the home team out and allowed the Brumbies to escape with a 23-20 win.
Man of the match: Rod Davies had a few good runs for the Reds, but spilling the ball with the tryline begging did not endear himself to his teammates. The Brumbies' front row of Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and Scott Sio was impressive in the set-pieces in the first half, where they laid a solid foundation. Moore also did an enormous amount of work on defence. However, it all changed dramatically with the arrival of replacement prop Jono Owen – which signalled a significant change in the Reds' scrum fortunes, even leading to a push-over try. For that dramatic change in the flow of the game, Owen gets our award.
For the Reds:
Tries: Robinson, Quirk
Cons: Cooper 2
Pens: Cooper 2
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Fardy, Tomane
Cons: White 2
Pens: White 3
Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Mike Harris/Dave McDuling, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Silva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Christian Lealiifano.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Will Houston (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)