The Brumbies have extended their lead on top of the Super Rugby AU ladder after they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a penalty goal to Mack Hansen after the siren and send the Reds home with a tough 22-20 loss. It certainly wasn’t a pretty win as the Reds did well to nullify the Brumbies attack, but Dan McKellar will take it.
The visitors recovered from a slow start in the first half and a brilliant ten-minute period after half time where they scored 17 points with tries to Harry Wilson and Angus Scott-Young that looked enough to break a long drought in Canberra but those efforts were to no avail as they came away with the last second loss that sees them remain second on the ladder, 7 points behind the Brumbies.
The Reds could not have gotten off to a worse start to the game with a knock on from the kick-off to put them under the pump. Numerous penalties followed that to give the Brumbies a chance to launch their rolling maul and the Reds infringing didn’t help them and it was Folau Fainga’a who eventually got over for the opening try after 5 minutes.
The Reds settled after that poor start and after a mountain of tackling, did well to repel more Brumbies attacks with Liam Wright getting in to disrupt the rucks and win some key turnovers.
After finally getting their hands on the ball and building up the phases, the Reds put the Brumbies defence on the back foot in the opposition 22 but just couldn’t execute and
The much-anticipated return of Jordan Petaia happened much sooner than most expected, as he came on before the 25-minute mark for the injured Chris Feauai-Sautia on the right wing for the Reds and his 65 minutes were impressive after such a long time out of the game.
A couple of more penalties for high tackles went against the Reds just after 30 minutes, and it was Groundhog Day, again, as Fainga’a scored off the rolling maul.
And just like the first try, the Reds were lucky the five-pointer stood, or they would have had a player in the bin for infringing.
The Reds finally got on the board just before half time after a penalty goal to James O’Connor and looked to have scored after the half time siren to Jordan Petaia after a brilliant 80-metre counter attaking movement.
But as the replays were being shown, referee Nic Berry asked the TMO for a check and ruled a high shot from Lukhan Salakaia-Loto on Tom Wright as he lost control of the ball on attack to cancel out the try. The Brumbies opted for a shot at penalty goal but Kuenzle’s shot was wide and the Reds were off the hook with only an 11-point deficit at 14-3.
The Reds didn’t let the disappointment at the end of the first half deter them as they swooped on a Brumbies mistake with a counter attack and a brilliant offload from Petaia found Harry Wilson and he ran untouched to the line and after a look from the TMO, the Reds were only 4 points down.
Then just minutes later they were in front after James O’Connor and Filipo Daugunu linked up to find space and it was Wilson again who made good metres before Angus Scott-Young finished off the well worked move to make it two tries in three minutes for the visitors.
Another penalty goal from O’Connor extended the margin to 6 points to make it 17 points in 11 eleven minutes and the confidence in the Reds side was obvious as they kept the pressure on the Brumbies to keep them in their own half.
O’Connor had a chance to put the game to bed with a penalty goal that would have made it an 8-point game but his shot was just to the left of the posts.
The Brumbies barely got into the Reds 22 during the second half such was the pressure they were under and it took an unfortunate offside mix up from O’Connor to allow the Brumbies to kick for the corner and come up with their third try to Connal McInerney. Mack Hansen missed the conversion to leave it a one-point game with 5 minutes to go.
The Brumbies launched one more attacking raid, but Reds replacement Fraser McReight stood up to the test to win a crucial penalty that looked to have sealed the win.
But the Reds couldn’t win the resulting lineout and it allowed the Brumbies another chance to push for the win as the full time siren sounded. A penalty that will probably be debated for days was awarded and Mack Hansen stepped up from about 45 metres out to make up for the earlier conversion miss to land the killer blow to the Reds for a 22-20 win.
The Game Changer
A few moments went against the Reds such as Petaia’s no try right on half time and James O’Connor having a chance to ice the game with around 10 minutes from a penalty goal but missed to allow the Brumbies the slightest chance of an unlikely win. And just like in the Waratahs game a few weeks ago, they crushed the hearts of the opposition.
The G&GR MOTM
Even though the Reds lost, they had plenty of players step up and Harry Wilson’s effort tonight was impressive with a try and 20 tackles to go with it.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Fainga’a 2, McInerney
Conversions: Kuenzle 2
Tries: Wilson, Scott-Young
Conversions: O’Connor 2
Penalties: O’Connor 2