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Sun 19 Jul 2020 | 09:29

The Thorn method's surprising outcome

The Thorn method's surprising outcome
Sun 19 Jul 2020 | 09:29
The Thorn method's surprising outcome
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Queensland have emerged as surprise Super Rugby AU leaders after breaking a seven-year hoodoo with their victory over the Western Force.

For the first time since 2013 the Reds have been unbeaten for four successive games, with their 31-24 Suncorp Stadium victory edging them edge a point clear of the title-favourite Brumbies.

Like the Reds, the Brumbies came from behind to win as they accounted for the NSW Waratahs 24-23 on Saturday night.

Replacement halfback Issak Fines dashed across for a last-ditch try before the conversion sealed the deal.

The Brumbies are also unbeaten and, with the Reds having a bye next round, they could regain top spot after the clash with the Melbourne Rebels.

However, they will be without young playmaker Noah Lolesio who injured his hamstring.

A Brumbies official said that Lolesio, who was visibly upset after being injured against the Tahs, was set for scans on Monday, but they feared he would be out for “at least a couple of weeks”.

While the standard of play was an improvement from round two, one worrying sign for Rugby Australia in the midst of broadcast and future competition structure negotiations is that New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa is proving almost as popular with Fox Sports viewers.

While Sunday’s figures don’t include streaming subscribers, 53,000 people watched the Waratahs-Brumbies match while 49,000 Fox Sports viewers in Australia watched the clash between the Hurricanes and Blues.

Reds coach Brad Thorn said before round three that Super Rugby AU was still finding its feet, with teams jumping straight into competition without the benefit of trial games following the coronavirus shutdown.

Thorn said he thought his team’s performance was an improvement.

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“There was a step taken but we’ll continue to build,” he said.

“We left some points out there, which is exciting, potential and all that but I guess that’s part of this comp, us just seeking to improve.”

The largely-inexperienced Waratahs sit in third place but are stinging after letting a 20-5 lead slip against the Brumbies, who they haven’t beaten in two years.

Well led by veteran lock Rob Simmons, the Waratahs dominated the line-out and scrum but quick tries from Folau Fainga’a and Rob Valetini got the Brumbies back in the match before the late heart-breaker.

“For large sections it felt like the boys did a great job,” Waratahs coach Rob Penney said.

“We played well and deserved the dessert but credit to Brumbies who hung in there.

“There were a lot of positives but there’s some bitterly disappointed boys in the change room.”

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The Thorn method's surprising outcome | Rugby365