Reds secure home advantage in Grand Final
Jordan Petaia has produced back-to-back clutch plays as the Queensland Reds rallied from 0-12 down to beat the Brumbies 24-22 and secure hosting rights to the Super Rugby AU Final.
The Reds’ seventh-straight win this season and 10th consecutive in Brisbane came after a frantic five minutes of defence after they edged ahead for the first time in the 77th minute.
With his side trailing 13-22 with 18 minutes to play, Petaia, who scored the late winner when the sides last played, pinned his ears back and nailed a 50-22 kick.
He then out-jumped Tom Banks to win a James O’Connor bomb, finding the turf to make it a four-point game.
O’Connor then kicked another penalty before Fraser McReight and Angus Scott-Young won a crucial turnover in front of their posts as the Brumbies sniffed a match-sealer.
Another scrum penalty then gave O’Connor the chance to kick for the lead from a slight angle 35 metres out and he made no mistake.
They then twice forced turnovers as the Brumbies probed either side of the full-time siren in another classic encounter between the sides.
The Reds went in without in-form Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami (calf), teenager Josh Flook given the task in the centres as coach Brad Thorn kept Petaia on the wing.
Led by an aggressive Rob Valetini, the Brumbies had the better of the early exchanges but Flook defended stoutly and was rewarded with a second-half try down the blindside that came from another clever O’Connor kick.
Wright had the immediate reply though as the Brumbies edged closer to their first win in Brisbane since 2015 – one that would have kept their own hopes of hosting the decider alive.
The visitors were clinical early, Folau Fainga’a tip-toeing inside the right touch line to score from a rolling maul before Tom Banks ran 70 metres from an O’Connor intercept.
The hosts earned back some ground and O’Connor kicked two penalties to peg back the margin before it looked as if 100-gamer Bryce Hegarty had put them within a point.
He chased a Hamish Stewart grubber 50 metres, his tackle on Andy Muirhead knocking the ball clear before the fullback got a hand on it.
The try was denied on review though, officials curiously judging Hegarty had knocked the ball forward while making the tackle.
They had other moments too but penalties spoiled them, Nic White nailing a 53-metre penalty for 15-6 lead on the half-time buzzer.
Despite Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa’s return, the Reds’ scrum held firm though as they slowly pegged their way back.
For the Reds
Tries: Flook, Petaia
Pens: O’Connor 4
For the Brumbies
Tries: Banks, Fainga’a, Wright
Cons: Lolesio 2
Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Joshua 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 Richie Asiata, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Lawson Creighton, 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 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Nick Frost, 20 James Tucker, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan