The University of Canberra Brumbies have reclaimed the Rod Macqueen Cup after an absorbing 23-20 win over the Reds in front of a vocal Brisbane crowd on Friday night.
It may be one of sport’s greatest clichés, but the game really was one of two halves as the UC Brumbies dominated the first forty only to face the fight of the season during the second stanza.
On debut, Tom Staniforth had a busy night and can expect to find himself in a UC Brumbies jersey on plenty more occasions in the future.
Going to the sheds with 70 per cent possession, the UC Brumbies were in total control. But from minute 41 of the match, Queensland turned the screws on the UC Brumbies, with the vast majority of possession, opportunity and momentum falling the Reds way. Queensland had two tries disallowed and twice the ball was spilled with the line open and begging.
Joe Tomane had his finest game of the 2014 Super Rugby season, while Stephen Moore, Pat McCabe and Ben Alexander were also outstanding. Nic White had a perfect night with the boot and the line-out operated like clockwork.
Skipper Ben Mowen commended his side on its win.
"We're extremely pleased, Suncorp is a difficult place to come and win the Reds are a good side anyway but when they're at home they grow a third leg and I was really pleased with the way we kept them away," Mowen said.
"That 20 minutes in the middle of the second half, they threw everything at us, but I was proud of our guys and their ability to stick together and produce a memorable win.
"Going into the break we knew we were going to have to work for another forty minutes and we certainly did that. It's been a long stretch of games for us, nine weeks before going to our first bye. I think the boys have earned some down time.”
White and Quade Cooper traded penalties in the opening 10 minutes, but it was Scott Fardy who claimed the first try after pouncing on a nice kick from winger Robbie Coleman.
Tomane was in everything throughout the match, getting his hands on the ball at every occasion and eventually celebrating with a nice try after being given two men to beat from a Jesse Mogg ball.
Queensland Reds had 19 missed tackles at half time, but had been forced to make the majority of the defensive decisions having been limited to just 30 per cent of possession during the first 40 minutes.
Beau Robinson managed to claim one try back off the back of a 5 metre line-out-come-driving maul, but the UC Brumbies still maintained a 10 point advantage at the break, 20-10.
What would eventually turn out to be a crucial kick, White added 3 more in the opening minutes of the second half, but it would be the final celebration for the UC Brumbies for the best part of half an hour.
The Reds enjoyed a wave of possession and field position, securing 3-straight 5 metre line-outs within 15 minutes and crossing the line on two occasions, only to be denied.
Ed Quirk and Stephen Moore had a heated exchange which let the UC Brumbies off the hook on one occasion, while the other saw a superb tackle from Tomane on Cooper which held the ball up and knocked it loose.
Rod Davies also had two opportunities to score but spilled them, and with 20 minutes to play the Reds drove straight through the UC Brumbies scrum for Quirk to drop on the ball and score.
Cooper calmly converted and the Reds were back within 3, 23-20.
But a huge defensive effort continued from the UC Brumbies, who managed to hold the Reds out and reclaim the Rod Macqueen Cup in 2014.
UC Brumbies 23 (Scott Fardy, Joe Tomane tries; Nic White cons 2, pens 3) bt Reds 20 (Beau Robinson, Ed Quirk tries; Quade Cooper cons 2, pens 2) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Referee: Steve Walsh.
1. Scott Sio(replaced by JP Smith)
2. Stephen Moore
3. Ben Alexander (replaced by Ruan Smith)
4. Scott Fardy
5. Tom Staniforth (replaced by Jack Whetton)
6. Jordan Smiler (replaced by Lachlan McCaffrey)
7. Jarrad Butler
8. Ben Mowen ©
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Robbie Coleman (replaced by Christian Lealiifano)
12. Pat McCabe
13. Tevita Kuridrani (replaced by Andrew Smith)
14. Joe Tomane
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Siliva Silva
17. Ruan Smith
18. JP Smith
19. Jack Whetton
20. Lachlan McCaffrey
21. Michael Dowsett
22. Andrew Smith
23. Christian Lealiifano