The University of Canberra Brumbies have gone down in their second trial match of 2012, 20-27 against a fired up Queensland Reds in Cairns.
The seven-point margin was a true indicator of the tight encounter, with players and coaches suggesting it had all the physicality and intensity of a mid-season game.
For the University of Canberra Brumbies, Colby Faingaa, Ita Vaea and Michael Hooper were standouts while Joe Tomane proved he has the ability to tear defences apart with a quality dart down the touchline.
The scoring started for the Reds when a sluggish clearance was charged down for Ben Tapuai to dive on and draw first blood.
His try and another to James Horwill highlighted the only down sides to the University of Canberra Brumbies in the opening half with plenty of pressure applied close to the Reds line.
Questions were asked about the legality of the Reds defence as they appeared to infringe on the University of Canberra Brumbies whenever they came within striking difference.
The University of Canberra Brumbies were happy to claim the points, with Nic White slotting four easy penalties to keep his team in with a sniff at half time, 17-12 down.
The Reds again started the second quarter quickly, knocking the stuffing out of the University of Canberra Brumbies with a soft try to Chris Feauai-Sautai.
It was answered with a good try to Michael Hooper, but the University of Canberra Brumbies couldn’t contain the Reds in the final minutes with Digby Ioane darting across for the clinching try to make it 27-20.
Backs Coach Stephen Larkham was pleased with the effort from his team reserving special praise for the University of Canberra Brumbies young loose forwards.
“Ita at open-side played an outstanding game, terrorizing the Reds attack with some really big hits,” Larkham said.
“Particularly when Radike Samo had the ball Ita was right in his face putting on pressure. He had a great game.
“In the second half Colby and Michael Hooper were also solid performers. We are pleased with the way they performed.”
Of some concern were injuries to Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander who both left the field in the opening 20 minutes.
They will undergo tests over the coming days with hopes the pair will be ok for the opening game against the Force on 24 February.
The University of Canberra Brumbies will play their final trial this Thursday evening at Raiders Belconnen against the ACT XV, kick-off 7pm.
Entry for the final trial match is free.