Heartbreak for Jake's Brumbies
Canberra - Flyhalf Zack Holmes missed a penalty kick seconds before the final whistle to allow the Reds to prevail 13-12 over Jake White's Brumbies in a dour territorial battle in their Super Rugby match here on Saturday.
Holmes's miss brought a dramatic end to what had been for the most part an uninspiring arm-wrestle between two Australian conference rivals too timid to carry the ball in hand and all too eager to kick it away.
The ugly win kept the Reds' title defence alive, leaving them only five points behind the conference-leading Brumbies and also within striking distance of the top six for a berth to the playoffs.
"Great result," Reds vice captain Will Genia said of his team's rare win at Canberra Stadium in a pitchside interview.
"We were very fortunate at the end, we gave it away and gave away a penalty and the young kid missed."
Reds fullback Luke Morahan scored the match's only try in the fourth minute with a piece of individual brilliance, bursting through the Brumbies' line in his team's own half and bolting 50m to chase down his own kick behind the posts.
The game descended into an unsightly spectacle thereafter with both teams committing a rash of penalties and rarely making incursions behind their opposing 22m lines.
The Reds took a 10-6 lead at half-time but Holmes slotted two penalty goals to keep the Brumbies in touch.
The young flyhalf had a shot at glory when Saia Faingaa infringed at the breakdown with two minutes left but his shot from about 40m out on a slight angle sailed left of the posts to elicit a collective groan from the stands.
Penalties: Zack Holmes (4)
Tries: Luke Morahan; Conversion: Mike Harris; Penalties: Harris (2)
15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joseph Tomane, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Leon Power, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Tevita Kuridrani
15 Ben Lucas, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Ed Quirk, 20 Nicholas Frisby, 21 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 22 Luke Morahan