VIDEO: Late long-range penalty breaks Rebels' hearts
SUPER RUGBY AU REPORT: Brumbies replacement scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan launched a miracle 55m penalty kick in the 83rd minute to secure a stunning 27-24 Super Rugby AU win over Melbourne Rebels in Canberra.
The teams appeared headed for golden-try time, locked at 24-all after 80 minutes, but the brave Brumbies ran the ball out of their own half and then secured a penalty at the breakdown.
Lonergan opted to take the unlikely kick in the swirling breeze at GIO Stadium but it went the distance before he was swamped by his cheering teammates.
It was a second week of heartbreak for the Rebels, who missed their own opportunity to snatch a win over the Queensland Reds with a wayward penalty after the 80th minute last week.
Lonergan proved a key replacement, setting up a late Brumbies’ try with a flick pass on to fullback Tom Banks.
It was a gritty performance by the home side who also had to overcome the send-off of skipper Allan Alaalatoa and losing hooker Connal McInerney early with an ankle injury.
Alaalatoa was given a red card in the final minute of the first half for an alleged shoulder charge on Pone Fa’amausili, which ended the Rebels prop’s night.
A concussed Fa’amausili had to be assisted from the field and will likely miss their trip to Perth to play the Western Force next week.
Rebels skipper Matt Toomua put his team back in front through that penalty, taking a 12-10 lead to the sheds.
Toomua had a flawless night, booting a perfect eight penalties from eight attempts, while Rebels scrumhalf Joe Powell had a big game against his former side.
Marika Koroibete was also a stand-out in the second half but couldn’t nail the try the Rebels desperately needed, while their forwards including lock Trevor Hosea and prop Cabous Eloff worked hard to unsettle the Brumbies.
But it counted for little with the home side keeping their unbeaten record intact, having now won 18 from their last 19 home matches.
Tries: Ikitau, Penalty Try, Banks
Cons: Lolesio, Lonergan
Pens: Lolesio, Lonergan
For Melbourne Rebels:
Pens: To’omua 8
Red card: Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies, 40 – dangerous play)
Yellow cards: James Hanson (Rebels, 49 – collapsing the maul); Andy Muirhead (Brumbies, 69 – repeated infringements.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 James Tucker, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Solomone Kata.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Tom Pincus, 14 Lachlan Anderson, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Joshua Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cabous Eloff.
Replacements: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Isaac Aedo Kailea, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Robert Leota, 21 James Tuttle/Brad Wilkin/Tom Nowlan, 22 Frank Lomani, 23 Glen Vaihu.
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Jordan Way & Nic Berry
TMO: Brett Cronan