02 Mar Reds Edge the Brumbies in Brisbane
The Plus500 Brumbies suffered a frustrating evening at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane despite outscoring their opponents two tries to nil as the Reds kicked half a dozen penalties to edge a scrappy encounter 18-10.
After a sluggish start against the Sunwolves in Tokyo there was a similar slow beginning to this one for the Brumbies and only some incredible goal-line defence from scrumhalf Joe Powell denied the Reds a score inside of ninety seconds.
Lachlan McCaffrey then bundled prop Taniela Tupou into touch, with a little help from Josh Mann-Rea, as the home team started brightly and threatened to breach the solid Brumbies defensive wall.
After ten minutes of knocking on the door, all the Reds had to show for their dominance was a mid-range penalty from scrumhalf James Tuttle and the home team were frustrated again when Powell knocked the ball out of the hands of wing Eto Nabuli when he seemed certain to cross midway through the half.
A second Tuttle penalty from in front of the posts doubled the lead, but the Brumbies hit back in some style with their first sustained period of pressure in the Reds twenty-two around the half-hour mark.
From a firm scrum platform, Powell fed Henry Speight who burst across the gain-line and recycled the ball astutely for Powell to pick up, spot a gaping hole in the Queensland defence and scoot over. Christian Lealiifano hit the upright with the conversion attempt.
The Reds were reduced to fourteen men four minutes before the interval when Caleb Timu was sent to the sin bin for leading with the shoulder in a tackle on Tom Banks, but the Brumbies could not take advantage before the interval, Mann-Rea held up when driven over the line at the back of a rolling maul.
Down by a point at the break, the Brumbies were searching for more cohesion and better execution but, despite early inroads into the Reds territory, some stout defence denied the visitors from Canberra.
It was the Brumbies who were now in charge of territory and possession however, just like the visiting team in the first half, the Reds claimed points on their first foray into the opposition half as Tuttle slotted a simple penalty from in front of the posts in the 58th minute.
With Tuttle departed from the scene, flyhalf Jono Lance was next to take a shot and goal and he extended the Reds lead to 12-5 with a firmly struck penalty following a scrum infringement with fourteen minutes to play, repeating the feat five minutes later from right in front.
With a ten-point deficit, and time running out, the Brumbies went close from another driving maul being held up over the line once more. From the resultant scrum though the Brumbies found space for number eight Isi Naisarani and be bounced off a couple of would-be tacklers to crash over. Replacement flyhalf Wharenui Hawera was unable to add the extras.
But it was all in vain as yet another penalty, again in front of the uprights, left Lance with a simple kick and confirmed the win with the Reds sixth penalty of the evening.
Reds (6) 18 (P: Tuttle (3), Lance (3))
Plus500 Brumbies (5) 10 (T: Powell, Naisarani)
1. Ben ALEXANDER (17. Nic MAYHEW 55’), 2. Josh MANN-REA (16. Robbie ABEL 51’), 3. Allan ALAALATOA (18. Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN 66’), 4. Rory ARNOLD (19. Blake ENEVER 45’), 5. Sam CARTER, 6. Lachlan MCCAFFREY (7. Tom CUSACK 74’), 7. Tom CUSACK (20. Lolo FAKAOSILEA 62’), 8. Isi NAISARANI, 9. Joe POWELL (21. Matt LUCAS 51’), 10. Christian LEALIIFANO (22. Wharenui HAWERA 45’), 11. Chance PENI, (23. Lausii TALIAULI 61’) 12. Kyle GODWIN, 13. Tevita KURIDRANI, 14. Henry SPEIGHT, 15. Tom BANKS