The Queensland Reds have drawn first blood in the 2014 Australian Conference, downing a fighting University of Canberra Brumbies outfit 27-17 at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
The home side had plenty of chances to win the game and were camped well within Reds territory for the majority of the second half, but couldn’t break Queensland’s impressive defence to get the win.
Stephen Moore was the standout for the home side, and Jesse Mogg scored plenty of points, but in the end it was mistakes that let the UC Brumbies down with several crucial drop balls in the final 15 minutes costing them.
Director of Rugby Laurie Fisher said the team would regroup before heading to Perth to face the Force next weekend.
“We gave up three soft tries and got ourselves over the line three times, we created plenty of pressure but we weren’t quick enough around the breakdown ... a little bit more tempo needs to come into our game, guys getting up off the ground a little bit quicker,” Fisher said.
“There were a lot of good things in our game this week, it’s not like we have to reinvent the wheel. There aren’t too many things we will need to change.
“Next week presents us with new opportunities and we will make different decisions against the Force.”
First points went to Mogg off the boot, but the real action was left to the UC Brumbies two wingers, Joe Tomane and Henry Speight who made 60 metre breaks within the first 10 minutes.
Despite not being able to capitalise on either line-break, the UC Brumbies edged further ahead off the boot of Nic White to lead 6-0 after 10 minutes.
But the celebrations were short lived, Lachie Turner scoring in the corner on his Reds debut after a long ball from Quade Cooper, who added the extras and gave the Reds a one-point lead 7-6.
Just five minutes later the Reds were in again, this time Aiden Toua streaking away, bamboozling the majority of the UC Brumbies backline to score just left of the uprights.
Again Cooper added the extras and the Reds were in control leading 14-6 with 30 minutes played.
The UC Brumbies almost clawed a try back through Mogg, but the fullback was ruled to be held up and the locals had to settle for another three points rather than seven.
Cooper added three more before halftime and the two teams went to the sheds with the Reds in the driver’s seat, 17-9.
Mogg again opened the session with points off the boot, but that pressure was relieved in less than two minutes when Tevita Kuridrani found himself in front of the kicker. Cooper added three more and the Reds buffer blew back out to eight points, 20-12.
Mogg was front and centre for the next passage of play and sliced through the right side to score the UC Brumbies first try of 2014. While the conversion missed, the UC Brumbies were still back in the game, going painstaking close just five minutes later through Scott Sio who was ruled to be held up.
The UC Brumbies had plenty of opportunities to get ahead – the driving maul was a highlight and made them plenty of inroads up the middle of the pitch, but the Reds defence was inpenetrable and a 17-20 stalemate ensued for the next 15 minutes.
Mogg had a chance to level the score with a penalty just inside the UC Brumbies half, but it missed and the home team had seven and a half minutes to capitalise on their bounty of second half possession.
At the death, Chris Feauai-Sautia scooped on another loose ball after Mogg spilled it from a kick, darting under the posts to claim the Reds first win of 2014, 27-17.Reds 27
(Aiden Toua, Lachie Turner, Chris Feauai-Sautia tries; Quade Cooper 3 cons, 3 pens) bt UC Brumbies 17
(Jesse Mogg try, 4 pens; Nic White White pen) at GIO Stadium, Canberra. Crowd: 13,670. Referee: James Leckie.University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephan Moore
3. Ben Alexander
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter
6. Ben Mowen ©
7. David Pocock
8. Jarrad Butler
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Joe Tomane
12. Pat McCabe
13. Andrew Smith
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse MoggReplacements
16. Siliva Siliva
17. Ruan Smith
18. Ruaidhri Murphy
19. Leon Power
20. Lachlan McCafrrey
21. Conrad Hoffmann
22. Tevita Kuridrani
23. Lionel Cronje