Reds edge blunder Brumbies
Reds edge blunder BrumbiesSHARE
The Reds got their Super Rugby campaign off to a winning start with a 27-17 win over the Brumbies at the Canberra Stadium on Saturday.
Despite dominating possession and territory for most of the second half, it was ultimately their own high error count – including an enormous blunder by Jesse Mogg minutes from full-time – that gifted the win to the Reds.
At home with the support of 13 670 spectators, the Brumbies had most of the match and came away without a single competition point.
But they did not deserve much more with their constipated style of play.
Kicking and mauling were the extent of their creative endeavour. Their problems may be the result of the eager, speedy Reds' defence, sowing uncertainty – but some of their errors were ridiculous.
Twice Nic White kicked kick-offs directly into touch. Twice Jesse Mogg dropped kicks when there was no pressure on him and he three times missed penalties, one from in front when the score was 20-17 to the Reds.
It was not that the Brumbies were not trying to create tries – not at all. Three times they eschewed penalty kicks at goal for a five-metre line-out and their try came from a scrum choice instead of a kick five metres from the line and near the posts.
But the Reds were far quicker, slicker and more inventive in their running – when they had the ball for the Brumbies had a powerful grip on possession, especially in the second half and especially after Greg Holmes was sin-binned.
You will probably never again see the bumbling the Brumbies managed that gave the Reds the gift of their third try – never again, not ever.
There were three minutes or so to play when the Reds lifted the siege with a penalty and then went on the attack with a second penalty – a strange one at a scrum. Quade Cooper went for a long touch and failed to get it.
O felix culpa – oh happy fault. Mogg knocked on. The ball was on the ground and he knocked on again. He then fumbled the ball back between his legs and then Chris Feauai-Sautia of the Reds accepted the present, snapped it up and scored a try which Cooper, whose kicking was excellent, converted.
You will not see that from an international player again. You probably won't see a try, so born of error, again in any level of rugby.
Brumbies dominated the early part of the game but Mogg missed a penalty kick and they used a penalty for a five-metre line-out which they spoilt buy slapping the ball back. But they were camped in the Reds' domain and when Mike Harris was offside in front of his posts and only 15 metres from his line., Mogg gave his side a 3–0 lead after 8 minutes.
James Slipper of the Reds was tackled and the Brumbies won a turnover on their left, near the half-way line. Jarrad Butler raced away with the ball and gave it to speedy, bush-headed Joe Tomane who raced down near touch, the ball in the wrong hand. When Tomane swerved infield Lachie Turner, who had an excellent game after moving up from Sydney, caught him from behind. Tomane lost the ball and Dom Shipperley cleared.
The Brumbies kicked their way back into Reds territory and Turner held on in a tackle. White goaled. 6-0 after 14 minutes, and the Brumbies, in their cumbersome way, were on top.
After a knock-on of the kick-off by Mogg, the Reds attacked. The referee was playing advantage when Cooper floated a perfect pass to Turner out on the right wing. The strong man just managed to get over in the corner and Cooper converted from touch. 7-6.
The Reds scored again. From a line-out on the half-way line on their right, the Reds went wide left where Cooper sent a perfect pass to burly, speedy fullback Aidan Toua back after two knee reconstructions. Toua cut inside Henry Speight and raced downfield for a spectacular try, which Cooper converted. 14-6 to the Reds after 22 minutes.
At this time Cooper missed two long-range penalty attempts. It was clear that the Reds wanted to score in whatever way they could.
The Brumbies came close to scoring. They kicked a penalty out for an attacking line-out and drove a maul forward. Told to use it, they went wide left where Mogg seemed certain to score, but somehow Turner got to him, turned him and kept him up off the ground.
From a penalty for offside Mogg made it 14-9 after 30 minutes but then Sam Carter was penalised for not releasing the tackled player and Cooper made the score 17-9, which was the half-time score.
The Brumbies took over the second half from the start. When Anthony Fainga'a was offside, Mogg goaled. 17-12 after 48 minutes but then Tevita Kuridrani was offside and penalised near his posts when the Brumbies kicked a long way downfield. Cooper's kick made it 20-12 after 49 minutes.
Greg Holmes was sent to the sin bin and the Brumbies opted for a five-metre scrum near the posts. The Reds' pack held firm and the Brumbies went wide right where Mogg scooted around Ben Tapuai to score. 20-17 with 26 minutes to play.
The Brumbies carried on with their siege. From a penalty, they had a five-metre line-out which became a maul and they bashed at the line. Scott Sio was over but held up by Rob Simmons. But the Reds were again penalised. The Brumbies used the same recipe of line-out and maul, but the maul fell down in an unplayable heap and the Reds were given the turnover scrum.
Some players suffered from cramp, White worst of all and he was replaced by Conrad Hoffman, making his Brumbies debut. It was certainly not a profitable exchange. Hoffman lacked White's speed of thought and action, the neatness of his control.
With nine minutes to play the Brumbies were still attacking and the score was still 20-17 when Mogg missed a straightforward kick. With three minutes to go the Brumbies were still attacking when they were penalised and then penalised again and the Mogg aberration and Feauai-Sautia's opportunism contrived to rob the home side of even a single bonus point for being a close loser.
* There was an excellent commentator's comment when Mogg knocked on for the first time. He said: "He could hear the footprints."
Man of the Match: David Pocock had a fine, diligent return to rugby and Lachie Turner, Aidan Toua, Liam Gill and Rob Simmons were outstanding for the Reds but our choice will be the halfback duo of Quade Cooper and Will Genia whose speed set their team attacking and whose defence was brave and secure.
For the Brumbies:
Pens: Mogg 3, White
For the Reds:
Tries: Turner, Toua, Feauai-Sautia
Cons: Cooper 3
Pens: Cooper 2
Yellow card: Greg Holmes (Reds, 53 – repeated infringements at the breakdown/tackle)
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Ben Mowen (captain), 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaridh Murphy, 19 Leon Power, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffman, 22 Lionel Cronjé, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.
Reds: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga'a, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)