The St.George Queensland Reds have fallen 23-20 to the Brumbies in a hard-fought Asteron Life Super Rugby clash in front of 30,004 fans in Brisbane tonight.
The Reds fought back bravely from a 20-3 deficit midway through the first half and when Eddie Quirk completed a tight-head push over try with 20 minutes remaining, it looked as if Queensland would pull off a stunning come from behind victory.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said the team would need to react quickly and prepare for the second half of the season.
“We have to make a choice now. We’ve got a bye and we’ll do everything we can in that bye to give guys a rest, but then we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and we need a really good back end of the season,” Graham said.
“The bye gives us another week to overcome a number of injuries. It also brings our five injured Wallabies (Ben Daley, Liam Gill, Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley and Lachie Turner) a week closer to returning.
“We don’t need to change a great deal in our play, but clearly we have to change something when you look at the results. We’re creating a significant amount of opportunities, we just have to start capitalising on a large percentage of those.”
The Suncorp Stadium turf was soft underfoot after some rain and the humid temperatures hovered around 24 degrees at kick off with almost no wind.
The Reds suffered an early setback when Brumbies lock Scott Fardy scored an opportunistic try after following up an infield kick. Nic White landed the conversion to make it 7-0 after nine minutes.
Flyhalf Quade Cooper brought the score back to 10-3 with a penalty close to the posts on 22 minutes, but just a minute later another penalty to White made it 13-3.
The Reds found themselves down 20-3 at the 30-minute mark, as winger Joe Tomane went over for the visitors out wide. The try once again was converted by White.
Queensland lifted immediately and a well worked try from a rolling maul close the Brumbies line saw flanker Beau Robinson go over to put the Reds back in the match. Cooper landed the conversion and the Reds were back to 20-10.
A scrum penalty gave Nic White a chance to increase the Brumbies lead on the stroke of halftime but he pushed it wide.
Hooker Saia Fainga’a came on to a warm reception from the home fans at half time to play his 100th Super Rugby game.
Another scrum penalty awarded to the Brumbies by referee Steve Walsh early in the second half saw White land an attempt from 40 metres out to put the visitors out to a 23-10 lead.
The Reds started to apply pressure with a dangerous grubber from Cooper on 46 minutes causing problems for the Brumbies.
Queensland continued to play a territory game in the second half and the tactic looked to have worked when Will Genia went over out wide for what looked like a try shortly afterwards.
But after much discussion with the TMO and his assistant, Walsh disallowed the try.
On 56 minutes the Reds looked set to finally score a well-deserved try but after a thrilling backline move a heavy tackle saw winger Rod Davies lose the ball just short.
Then the Reds seemed certain to have got over for their second try on 62 minutes but Cooper couldn’t ground the ball when over the line.
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