Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper slotted an 81st-minute penalty to secure a shock 16-15 win over the Brumbies in Brisbane on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
On a day when SA Rugby confirmed the axing of the Cheetahs and Kings from Super Rugby, this contest in Brisbane indirectly demonstrated just how fortunate Australia is to be retaining four teams in the competition.
The Brumbies have been the leading Australian side this season, and yet they had clinched just one more victory than the Kings coming into Friday’s clash against the Reds, who in turn had managed just three wins throughout the season.
As it is, the Reds looked destined to suffer yet another loss when they trailed by nine points heading into the final quarter, but a late try by replacement Hamish Stewart, followed by a dramatic penalty with the final play of the game, sealed a shock victory.
It may have resulted in an exciting finish, but the two teams produced an error-riddled display in an utterly forgettable opening first half of action played out in wet and slippery conditions.
The poor quality of the clash was perhaps best summed up by two costly unforced errors early on, with a forward pass from Reds centre Duncan Paia'aua ruling out a probable try, while Brumbies winger Aidan Toua then knocked the ball on with the tryline beckoning.
In the end, Cooper slotted two penalties late in the half to hand the hosts a 6-3 lead at the break, with the Brumbies’ only points coming through the boot of Wharenui Hawera.
With conditions also playing a role in turning the game into an ugly scrap, there was no real surprise that the opening try came through a penalty try as the Reds illegally sacked a tryline-bound rolling maul, which also resulted in a yellow card for George Smith.
During his absence, somewhat comical errors continued to punctuate proceedings as Cooper then failed to gather the ball in the in-goal area, with Brumbies centre Kyle Godwin pouncing to score and send the Brumbies into a handy 15-6 lead.
From there the visitors looked certain to close the game out, but they were unable to withstand the late fightback of the gutsy Reds.
Reds – Try: Hamish Stewart. Conversion: Quade Cooper. Penalties: Cooper (3).
Brumbies – Tries: Penalty try, Kyle Godwin. Penalty: Wharenui Hawera.
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Duncan Paia'aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Adam Korczyk, 7 George Smith, 6 Rob Simmons, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Sef Fa'agase.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Markus Vanzati, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Chris Kuridrani.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Aidan Toua, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Nigel Ah Wong, 23 Andrew Smith.
Photo: Ultimate Rugby