The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
REDS TO HOST DECIDER
Queensland click when it counts to take down Brumbies
THE Queensland Reds will host the Super Rugby AU grand final after a gutsy come-from-behind 24-22 win over the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium last night.
The Reds took the lead for the first time in the match just three minutes from time when James O’Connor kicked the fourth of his penalty goals, following a matchturning patch of play from Jordan Petaia.
The victory was in question until the 82nd minute, with the Reds forced to defend ferociously for an extra two minutes after failing to find touch following what should have been a matchwinning turnover from workhorse forwards Fraser McReight and Angus ScottYoung.
The Reds’ defence stood firm again though, eventually forcing a knock-on from the Brumbies, with players at a virtual standstill.
It was an outstanding turnaround from the Reds, who were down 12-0 after 17 minutes following two tries from the Brumbies who had burst out of the blocks.
Trailing 15-6 at halftime after Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White booted a penalty from inside his own half just before the break, the Reds fought back with a beautifully executed try to young centre
Josh Flook only to have the Brumbies score again minutes later.
But the Reds dominated the final 20 minutes, with Petaia scoring a try and calm leader O’Connor booting two late penalties to seal the win.
The Reds have a bye next week and just one fixture remaining against the Western Force in Perth but having beaten the Brumbies twice, they will finish the season on top of the ladder regardless and earn hosting rights for the final a decade after their last Super Rugby title.
He may be playing on the wing but Petaia showed he can be a key playmaker for the Reds going forward after making a pivotal play that set up the victory.
With the ball taken about 65m out in a kick exchange with the Brumbies, Petaia accelerated before booting the ball across field, sending it bouncing into touch inside the Brumbies’ 22 to earn his side a lineout under the new 50-22 rule.
The calculated move ultimately led to a try – scored by Petaia when he outjumped Brumbies fullback Tom Banks – showing the impact the Wallaby back can have on a match when fit and firing.
Without regular centre partner Hunter Paisami, out with a calf injury, Petaia was not expected to have the same impact he did against the Brumbies last month.
Bryce Hegarty looked to have earnt the ultimate reward in his 100th game, seemingly scoring a try late in the first half only to be denied by the television match official. QUEENSLAND REDS 24 (Flook, Petaia tries; O’Connor 4 pen, conv) d ACT BRUMBIES 22 (Faingaa, Banks, Wright tries; Lolesio 2 conv; White pen).