The Brumbies have finished off the regular season with hard fought 40-27 win over the Reds in Canberra to make it six wins in a row and all important momentum heading into their quarter final next weekend.
The home side scored six tries in the thirteen point win but didn’t have it all their way as the Reds made them work hard for it and had a running battle with referee Paul Williams as they copped two yellow cards to Taniela Tupou and Scott Higginbotham that the Brumbies took full advantage of.
The set piece battle was always going to be integral to this game and the Reds had a dominant set piece and could have had better pay from it but it was errors at crucial times including an intercept try to Tom Wright that killed off any chance of a late comeback with two late tries making the scoreboard more respectable.
The Brumbies showed their intent early with strong running and wide play but the it was the Reds who were able to take advantage of some poor execution from the home side to get on the board first.
Bryce Hegarty was able to take advantage of an intercept and kick head to keep the Brumbies pinned down their own end to win a penalty and after some patient build up after the penalty, he finished off what he started for a 7-0 lead.
The Reds look liked they had gone further in front after Matt McGahan swooped on another loose pass and outran the defence but the TMO took a look at a hit by Taniela Tupou on Christian Lealiifano in the lead up and ruled out the try and gave Tupou a yellow card that referee Paul Williams explained he could have lowered his technique and the card could have been worse, despite the protests of Samu Kerevi.
With Tupou in the bin, the Brumbies took advantage with Kuridrani finding space in the backline to get on the front foot. The Reds initially did well to hold them out but Andy Muirhead managed to get over the line to make it 7-5.
The Reds were prepared to play without the ball and the tactic seemed to work well for them as they had the better of territory but only 40% possession and they went further ahead from a Hegarty penalty right in front after Folau Fainga’a was ruled to not use his arms in a tackle.
The scrums had been a good battle to this point, with the Reds with a point decision up against their more fancied opponents. Three minutes before the break, the Reds looked like they had dominance but not according to the referee and could consider themselves unlucky as Lachie McCaffrey took control at the back and scored the second Brumbies try.
The Reds suffered a blow just before half time with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto having to go off after clashing heads with Samu Kerevi. His replacement Scott Higginbotham didn’t have a great two minutes as he gave away a penalty for coming around the wrong side of the maul and followed that up from that penalty as being adjudged to have collapsed the Brumbies maul to leave Williams to award a penalty try, although the call seemed a bit harsh and copped the double whammy of the yellow card.
The Reds didn’t have a great start to the second half as the Brumbies again took advantage of a yellow card. A penalty for not rolling away allowed the boot of Tom Banks to show his accuracy to launch a rolling maul and Rory Arnold squirmed over for his second try in two weeks.
Things went from bad to worse for the Reds as Filipo Daugunu then gave the Brumbies a gift as he offloaded straight into the hands of Tom Wright and he ran 50 metres to the line to make the Reds task even harder at 33-10.
The reds did manage to reduce the margin in scenes reminiscent of Matt Dunning as Matt McGahan kicked a drop goal from a penalty advantage when tries were what were needed if they wanted to get back into the game.
And they did manage to get the next try with a brilliant first phase try starting in their own half with Jock Campbell making the most of a defensive misread and Duncan Paia’aua backed up to score to give the Reds a slight hope of a comeback with 15 minutes remaining.
They looked good to score again that would have made the Brumbies a bit nervous but their execution right on the Brumbies line let them down and they were made to pay shortly after as replacement Murray Douglas rolled his way over to seal the game at 40-20 before a late try to Liam Wright made the final score 40-27.
The Game Changer
The five minutes before half time. The Brumbies were arguably lucky to get the first try to McCaffrey and the follow up penalty try that saw Higginbotham go to the bin.
The G&GR MOTM
A real team effort from the Brumbies tonight with tries scored across backs and forwards. The nod goes to Rory Arnold whose matchup with Izack Rodda was one to keep an eye on.
Plenty of Wallabies on show tonight. The Brumbies front row had a tough night against the Reds who could consider themselves unlucky on a number of calls. Tom Banks’ kicking for the line to launch the Brumbies attack from lineout was again exceptional and added 119 run metres. Tevita Kuridrani had a quiet night by his recent standards but was solid. Rory Arnold’s work in the lineout and the maul should see him in Gold in a starting role.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Muirhead, McCaffrey, Penalty try, Arnold, Wright, Douglas
Conversions: Lealiifano 3, Lonergan
Tries: Hegarty, Paia’aua, Wright
Conversions: Hegarty 3
Drop Goal: McGahan
15 mins – Tupou (Reds) – Yellow
40 mins – Higginbotham (Reds) – Yellow