VIDEO: Late O'Connor try breaks Brumbies' hearts in dramatic Final
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: James O’Connor has scored a try five minutes into injury time as the Queensland Reds finally found a way past a 13-man Brumbies outfit to seal a remarkable 19-16 Super Rugby AU Final win at Suncorp Stadium.
The Brumbies had Darcy Swain and Luke Reimer sin-binned as they somehow clung to a 16-12 lead at the death, having already had Rob Valetini in the bin for 10 minutes earlier in the second half.
They repelled two scrums with just six men in the line-up then incredibly stopped a rampaging Taniela Tupou from a close-range quick tap before the Reds finally spread it and O’Connor slid over to the delight of 41 637 fans.
It’s the Reds’ first silverware since they beat the Crusaders for their only Super Rugby title 10 years ago and is a changing of the guard for Australian rugby after the Brumbies beat them in a tight decider in Canberra last year.
The Brumbies controlled the first half, forcing the Reds to make 75 tackles to their 38 as the hosts coughed up possession and failed to find yardage with kicks or any punch with ball in hand.
A Tom Banks try was the only five-pointer to show for it though, the Reds’ denied a reply when Feao Fotuaika was judged to have been held up as he scrambled through feet and jerseys to eventually find the in-goal area.
Penalties kept the Reds close while the Brumbies found three-pointers of their own, targeting wing Jordan Petaia with their kick-offs and daring him to kick.
Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White kept turning the Reds around with his kicking game but the hosts found more ball in the second half, tensions flaring multiple times when play broke down.
The worm looked to have turned when Valetini was sin-binned for a tackle that slipped up on Jock Campbell’s chin in the 60th minute.
But the teams only traded penalties in that period, the Reds instead flicking the switch with five minutes to go when they opted to scrum directly in front.
Player-of-the-match Fraser McReight led the charge, signalling to the crowd for support, and they lifted in an intense final 10 minutes that at one stage saw almost all of the 13 remaining Brumbies piling behind the ball under the posts to defend their line.
The win follows two other tight Reds victories against the Brumbies this season, with the two teams now charged with leading the country’s charge in the Trans-Tasman competition that begins next week.
Man of the match: The Brumbies’ loose forwards were outstanding in the rucks and in open play. Hooker Lachlan Lonergan was immense with ball in hand for the visitors. Reds prop Taniela Tupou was hard to bring down when he had the ball. Reds captain and flyhalf James O’Connor scored all of his team’s points in the Final and handled the pressure well to keep his team in the game in the second half. However, the award goes to Reds flank Fraser McReight, who played out of his skin on defence and with ball in hand. He also made his presence felt at the breakdowns.
Pens: O’Connor 4
Pens: Lolesio 3
Yellow card: Rob Valetini (Brumbies, 61 – high tackle); Darcy Swain (Brumbies, 78 – cynical play); Luke Reimer (Brumbies, 81 – repeated infringements)
Queensland Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Jock Campbell, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Isaac Henry, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Nick Frost, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Henry Stowers, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Mack Hansen.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie
AAP & @rugby365com