Reds stop losing streak
Defending Vodacom Super Rugby champions, the Queensland Reds stopped a three-game losing streak to edge the Brumbies 20-13 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday.
The victory brought back some sanity to the Reds’ campaign after they suffered losses to the Sharks, Bulls and Force away from home -- conceding more 130 points in their last three games before returning home.
But to think Ewen McKenzie’s team is close to their best would be a bit far from the point. Against a Brumbies side determined to play within the 15, the Reds struggled and eventually found themselves hanging on in the end.
The Brumbies, under former Bok coach Jake White, will never be confused with a flashy outfit, but they do the basics well and are excellent at limiting their mistakes and in upsetting the opposition's rhythm and did so to the struggling Reds for large periods of the game.
The visitors though weren’t great on attacking ideas, and the Reds' streetsmarts eventually allowed them to score two turnover tries to one to eventually be the difference in the game.
Overall though the derby lacked the intensity of some of the South African derbies we have witnessed in recent weeks and was far from the intensity expected from the two top Aussie franchises.
It took all of 25 minutes to get points on the board as the two sides sparred with each other amidst a plethora of mistakes.
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But the deadlock was finally broken, albeit in a bit of controversial fashion, as a midfield turnover saw Ben Tapuai launch himself down the touchline before throwing a beauty of an inside pass to Scott Higginbotham, who rolled out of the tackle and over the line to score. Problem was, it seemed as if television replays showed Higginbotham’s elbow touching the line before he scored, but the television match official gave the try anyway.
Four minutes later a chip over the defence by former Bishops and WP flyhalf Sam Lane was booted ahead for Rod Davies to pounce on, flipping a final pass before he was hauled into touch into Higginbotham’s hands for the second try in five minutes.
At 14-0 down the Brumbies weren’t about to give up, but things looked bleak when Lane added a penalty shortly after halftime to increase the lead.
But then a mini brain-explosion by flanker Liam Gill, in kicking away the ball cynically in his home red zone, allowed the Brumbies to launch a fightback as first Christian Lealiifano slotted a penalty and then winger Joe Tomane shrugged off three ineffective tackles to score a great individual try and bring his side within four.
But a late penalty by Lane settled matters and gave the Reds the win they were desperate for, both for their own campaign and their fortunes ahead in this competition.
Reds – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2). Conversions: Sam Lane (2). Penalties: Lane (2).
Brumbies – Try: Joseph Tomane. Conversion: Chirsitian Lealiifano. Penalties: Chirsitian Lealiifano (2).