The Queensland Reds have hung on for close fought 13-12 win over the Brumbies in Canberra tonight.
The game came down to the very last second when referee Steve Walsh awarded a penalty to the Brumbies with fly half Zack Holmes stepping up despite suffering cramp in the lead up but his shot narrowly missed to the left.
The Reds started the game the better of the sides and after conceding an early penalty for Digby Ioane mistiming his jump in a contest for a high ball on Henry Speight, they surprised the Brumbies when fullback Luke Morahan fielded a bomb in his own half, broke free from the defence and collected his own chip and chase kick to score what would be the only try of the night.
The Reds continued dominating the opening exchanges but the game was unable to gain any real flow due to the amount of penalties both teams were conceding, especially when in attack.
The breakdown was where the majority of the penalties occured and it was pretty much a dogs breakfast with players lying all over the place and making it difficult for referee Steve Walsh to stay off the whistle. Walsh was also penalising both sides at scrum time for engagement infringements.
It was a tough match for Walsh containing both sides with numerous chats with the respective captains about players telling him how to do his job and other niggly rubbish, and by 25 minutes had already blown for 11 penalties.
The Brumbies were finally on the scoreboard in the 28th minute with a penalty goal to Zack Holmes but were lucky not to be behind by more with only 28% of possession at this point.
But as most derby matches can be, it turned into a kick fest which the crowd weren’t too happy about . The breakdown situation also had a bit to do with this as it appeared both teams weren’t wanting to concede the penalty when in possession and the Reds came out on top in the kicking battle.
With five minutes in the half reamining Holmes added another penalty to make it 7-6 to the Reds, but the visitors responded with their own to Mike Harris right on half time to stretch their lead back to 4 points.
The second half opened with the Brumbies holding the ball for a five minute period and they got their reward with another penalty to Holmes.
The Reds didn’t appear too concerned at their lead being whittled away by penalties and started attacking the Brumbies with quick front foot ball helping their cause and hit back with another penalty to Harris after Brumbies captain Ben Mowen took out Genia at the back of the ruck.
The shrill of Walsh’s whistle struck again and this time the Brumbies were the recipients and Holmes landed his fourth penalty of the night to cut the Reds lead to 1.
The same pattern continued with the Brumbies being penalised again after a strong rolling maul. The Reds discipline at the breakdown and the involvement of Beau Robinson and Liam Gill was helping them get on top in this area.
AS the clock wound down the Reds had a great attacking opportunity on the Brumbies line but after some sneaky handy work in the scrum that went unnoticed by Walsh the Brumbies survived.
The Reds then had another scrum five metres out but botched the scrum and the Brumbies kicked the ball down field to push for what would have been an unlikely victory.
The Reds have one injury concern with Horwill’s hamstring injury with Ewen McKenzie suggesting that his involvement in the early Tests would be unlikely but not giving a timeframe on his absence.
The Reds victory tonight cuts the Brumbies lead in the Australian Conference to 5 points and with the bye next weekend could reduce that margin even further with the Brumbies taking on the Rebels in Melbourne.
Reds 13 – Morahan try; Harris con, 2 pens def Brumbies 12 – Holmes 4 pens