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Reds 20 (Scott Higginbotham 2 tries; Sam Lane 2 cons; 2 pens) bt University of Canberra Brumbies 13 (Joe Tomane try; Christian Lealiifano con; 2 pens). Referee: Steve Walsh. Crowd: 31,479.
The University of Canberra Brumbies have suffered their third loss of the year going down to the title holding Reds at Suncorp Stadium, 20-13.
The Reds, bolstered by eight Wallabies in their forward pack and the world’s best scrum-half in Will Genia, led the match from start to finish thanks to two lucky tries to No. 8, Scott Higginbotham.
It was the first time the University of Canberra Brumbies have been defeated at Suncorp Stadium and just the third win by the Reds in this fixture since 1996. The Reds managed to muscle up at the breakdown, an area the University of Canberra Brumbies had dominated for the early rounds of the season, forcing numerous turnovers throughout the physical encounter.
“Our execution at crucial times need to improve if we are going to be a threat in this competition, we have to be taking our chances. It’s too hard to be giving a team like the Reds a 14 point lead,” Head Coach Jake White said.
“There are a lot of young guys in that change room and we are still learning. The majority of our group are still on less than 10 caps. You can’t buy experience you can only earn it. We are on our way to earning that experience.
“This makes next week’s game against the Rebels even more important. We are back at Canberra and none of the boys will want to make it three losses in a row.”
Higginbotham’s first try was a touch controversial; with the TMO replay suggesting the Wallaby flanker had put an arm into touch. But Queensland supporters were pleased to hear referee Steve Walsh award the try, giving their side an early, 5-point lead.
The second try for the Reds, their last of the evening, came from some clever work from rookie flyhalf Sam Lane, who chipped over the top then kicked ahead for Higginbotham to swoop on the loose ball and score.
The rest of the first half was tight, with neither side gaining any clear ascendancy or maintaining momentum. The Reds had plenty of chances to punish the University of Canberra Brumbies, hammering their line with some physical attack but couldn’t move their lead any further ahead.
The second half was dominated by penalties, with Christian Lealiifano’s two shots getting his side back into the game. Joe Tomane scored another cracker, breaking the line and out running his opposite number to score his third try of 2012.
Once again Lealiifano was among the Brumbies best, breaking the line several times and keeping his side in the game with his pin-point shots at goal.
With the score sitting at 17-13 with five minutes to go it looked as if the University of Canberra Brumbies would pull off a miracle, but it wasn’t to be, with Lane kicking a penalty in the final minute to push the score out to 20-13.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Ruaidhri Murphy)
4. Leon Power
5. Sam Carter
6. Peter Kimlin (replaced by Scott Fardy)
7. Ita Vaea (replaced by Michael Hooper)
8. Ben Mowen
9. Nic White
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Joe Tomane
12. Pat McCabe
13. Andrew Smith
14. Henry Speight (replaced by Tevita Kuridrani)
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Ruaidhri Murphy
18. Scott Fardy
19. Michael Hooper
20. Ian Prior
21. Zack Holmes
22. Tevita Kuridrani