The Queensland Reds succumbed to a big penalty count (17-8) and a disappointing result, going down 47-3 to the Brumbies in Canberra tonight in their opening match of the 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby season.
The Reds’ only points came through a first-half penalty goal to new flyhalf Karmichael Hunt, who was one of six debutants on the night, and Queensland finished the game with 14-men after James Horwill received a second yellow card for repeated infringements, five minutes from time.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said: “We’re disappointed because we thought we made good progress during the trials, but tonight we went backwards. We didn’t bring physicality and the Brumbies were physical and direct.
“Our discipline was poor. The penalty count at half time was 12-4 against us. That’s more than you would expect to give away in an entire game. That put us constantly on the back foot so we were always under pressure. We made some poor decisions and we got punished for them.”
“We’ve got eight days to prepare for the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium and we’ve obviously got some work to do between now and then.”
With a star studded list of injured players watching on, including Wallabies Quade Cooper, Rob Simmons and James O’Connor and All Black Adam Thomson, the polished and experienced Brumbies took the lead early through a try to Robbie Coleman, converted by Christian Leali’ifano.
However the Reds looked promising on 10 minutes launching multiple phases at the Brumbies defensive line but the move ended with a break down penalty to the defending team, one of many on the night.
The Brumbies increased their lead to 10-0 on 13 minutes through a penalty goal to Leali’ifano for an infringement at a defensive lineout.
Young Reds centre Samu Kerevi powered over the line soon after but the try was called back after Chris Feauai-Sautia was judged to have obstructed the Brumbies defence.
Queensland fell further behind, 13-0, on 25 minutes with a second penalty goal to Leali’ifano.
The Reds were on the wrong side of the penalty ledger, particularly at the breakdown, with the penalty count ballooning out to 10-2 against them. Leali’ifano took advantage with another penalty on 28 minutes to make it 16-0.
Saia Fainga’a went off with a head knock on 30 minutes, bringing James Hanson on, but the Reds started to get some ascendancy, with Horwill prominent in the lineouts.
Hunt notched a well-taken penalty goal on 34 minutes to bring up the former league and AFL stars first Super Rugby points and make the score 16-3.
But the breakdown penalties continued against the Reds and the Brumbies again finished the half on top with a try to Joe Tomane making the score 21-3 at the break.
There was a big moment for 18-year-old Campbell Magnay, a star for Queensland Country in last year’s National Rugby Championship, who came on for his Super Rugby debut, less than a year after representing the Australian Schoolboys. Magnay came on for Jamie-Jerry Taulagi with Lachie Turner going to fullback.
Hunt had an opportunity to reduce the deficit on 44 minutes but his long range penalty shot was out to the right.
Things got tougher for the Reds on 47 minutes when the hardworking Horwill was sin-binned after Gardner ruled him guilty of another breakdown infringement.
The Brumbies took advantage through a try to Matt Toomua less than a minute later, which Leali’ifano converted from the sideline to make it 28-3.
Marco Kotze then came off, completing his Reds’ Super Rugby debut, with Ed O’Donoghue coming on, while Magnay pulled off a huge tackle on Coleman, showing he was not daunted by the big occasion.
Ben Daley, wearing the first of his ‘Be Great, Do Good’ campaign headgear in support of Heart Kids, then came on for captain James Slipper but moments later the Reds slipped further behind with Nic White going over for a try, again converted by Leali’ifano.
There was time for replacements Duncan Paia’aua and Sef Faagase to come on, bringing the number of debutants for the Reds to six on the night.
Some spirited defence late on from the Reds tried to hold out the Brumbies but Tevita Kuridrani went over to make it 42-3 with ten minutes left, with Queensland reduced to 14 men five minutes later as Horwill received his second yellow card for repeated infringements.
Brumbies replacement James Dargaville went over out wide to complete the scoring in the final minutes with Paia’aua’s debut cut short, leaving the field with a head knock.
The Reds will look to bounce back when they return to Brisbane to take on the Western Force in another big local derby at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday night.
ASTERON LIFE SUPER RUGBY
St George Queensland Reds 3 (Karmichael Hunt penalty goal) lost to Brumbies 47 (Robbie Coleman, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Tevita Kuridrani, James Dargaville tries; Christian Leali’ifano 4 conversions, 3 penalty goals) at Canberra Stadium. (Half time: Brumbies 21 Reds 3).