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The University of Canberra Brumbies have clung to a hard fought draw on the road at Suncorp Stadium in what was arguably the most entertaining fixture of the 2013 Super Rugby season.
Despite scoring three tries to one and facing two, 10-minutes spells against 14 men, the Reds couldn’t put the Brumbies away in a game they never led but constantly challenged.
The final 15 minutes of play was all Reds as they mounted wave after wave of attack to try and bury the Brumbies. Yellow cards to Christian Lealiifano and Scott Sio had the Brumbies on the backfoot for long spells in both halves and the Reds will probably regret not making the most of those passages of play.
Liam Gill claimed the Reds third try with minutes to play, evening the score and keeping the 38,404 Queensland supporters on the edge of their seats.
With neither side able to crack the 19-19 deadlock, the University of Canberra Brumbies remain at the top of the Australian Conference and overall Super Rugby standings. The Reds continue their pursuit in second place (on points only, Reds are fourth overall and the first wildcard).
Having won the opening encounter against Queensland in round one, the draw returns the Rod Macqueen Cup to Canberra after the Reds took it to Brisbane for the first time in 2012.
“You’re never happy when you draw a game you always want to win, but considering we played a quarter of the game with 14 men and they had so many cracks at our line, when you see a defensive effort like that you have to be proud,” Head Coach Jake White said.
“We got the Rod Macqueen Cup, so that’s fantastic. When you come up to Suncorp it’s a daunting task. You’re not going to get asked too many more questions than having guys like [Will] Genia and [Quade] Cooper running at you all evening.
“You can’t coach that last 20 minutes of defence. You can implements systems and build strength but at the end of the day that came down to guts and determination.
“Winning the championship is still a long way off but that defensive record at the end is something you stick in your memory bank.”
Saturday’s match had a little bit of everything – long range tries, contentious decisions, ferocious physicality, niggle, big game players and tactical nous from two of world rugby’s best coaches.
In a nutshell, the match was a ripper.
Lealiifano scored all the Brumbies points including a perfect night with the boot to land five from five.
Plenty of media attention had focussed on the game throughout the week and with points ticking over from the opening exchanges there was no chance the players weren’t going to live up to the hype.
Lealiifano got the scoring underway with two penalties but it was the Reds who crossed for the first try thanks to a perfectly executed rolling maul from on the back of repeat 5 metre line-outs by Jake Schatz. Next on the try-scorers list was Lealiifano himself as the inside centre dummied and slipped past Digby Ioane.
Rod Davies looked certain to score only to have the ball jolted from his grip by a flying Jesse Mogg and the Brumbies headed to the break 13-7 up.
Davies eventually got his try in the right corner after a long ball from Cooper, but Lealiifano continued to take his opportunities at the sticks and kept the Brumbies noses in front.
Gills effort was the result of continued pressure, leaving the Brumbies with their second draw in three games.
Queensland Reds 19 (Rod Davies, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz tries; Quade Cooper 2 cons) drew University of Canberra Brumbies (Christian Lealiifano try; con; 4 pens) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Glen Jackson. Crowd: 38,404.
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Scott Sio)
4. Peter Kimlin
5. Sam Carter
6. Ben Mowen
7. George Smith (replaced by Jordan Smiler)
8. Fotu Auelua (replaced by Colby Faingaa)
9. Nic White (replaced by Ian Prior)
10. Matt Toomua (replaced by Pat McCabe)
11. Joe Tomane (replaced by Clyde Rathbone)
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Siliva Siliva
17. Scott Sio
18. Jordan Smiler
19. Colby Faingaa
20. Ian Prior
21. Pat McCabe
22. Clyde Rathbone