Brumbies shock Reds
Brisbane - The Brumbies ambushed the Super Rugby title-chasing Reds with a 22-14 victory in Brisbane on Saturday, rubbing salt into the wound with a last-second penalty that denied their hosts a bonus point.
SUPER RUGBY LOGS
The Reds, clearly jaded after their draining last-gasp victory over the Crusaders last weekend, remained top of the overall standings ahead of South Africa's Stormers with two games to go but with their lead cut to one point.
The Brumbies, twice former champions, were inspired by flyhalf Matt Giteau as they grabbed just a third win of a miserable season by taking a 19-11 first half lead and then defending fiercely to protect it.
Hooker Stephen Moore scored their only try in the first half and the rest of the points came from Giteau, who kicked a conversion and five penalties, including the one with the last kick that moved the deficit beyond seven points.
"It's been a tough season for us, the Reds are into the finals and good luck to them for the rest of the season but for us it was a huge test of character," said Giteau. "We backed our defence and backed each other and that got us a win."
The Reds got a try through fullback Ben Lucas just before halftime but despite plenty of possession were unable to add more than Quade Cooper's third penalty in the second half.
"Our game thrives on enthusiasm and we were very flat," said Reds scrumhalf Will Genia. "We put a lot of effort into last week's game and we let ourselves down with energy and enthusiasm and they were good enough to put in a performance and win."
A disappointing night was made worse when livewire Reds winger Digby Ioane was knocked out cold in a tackle by Brumbies number eight Ita Vaea and taken off the pitch on a stretcher after 48 minutes.
The first 17 minutes was a kicking contest between the former and current Wallabies number 10s with Giteau edging his successor Cooper three penalties to two to give the Brumbies an early 9-6 lead.
For all the world class backline talent on display, it was forward Moore who scored the opening try, trundling over under the posts after linking well with Vaea after 20 minutes.
Giteau added the extras and kicked a fourth penalty just past the half hour mark to extend the lead to 19-6 before the Reds finally got a try of their own when Lucas took a flat pass from Cooper and scurried over with his second effort.
The Brumbies continued to have great success with counter-rucking in the second half and the Reds, having cleared their replacements bench, lacked the spark to breach the wall of white shirts.
Reds -Try: Ben Lucas; Penalty: Quade Cooper (3)
Brumbies - Try: Stephen Moore; Conversion: Matt Giteau; Penalties: Matt Giteau (5)
15 Ben Lucas, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Ben Coridas, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Will Chambers, 22 Dom Shipperley
15 Pat McCabe, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau (captain), 9 Patrick Phibbs; 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Jono Owen
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Henry Vanderglas, 20 Nic White, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Andrew Smith