The Reds haven't won in Canberra since 2014. Thorn says travel won't be a factor in grand final against Brumbies

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

They might not have won in Canberra since 2014, but Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn says travel won't be a factor ahead of their grand final against the Brumbies next Saturday night.

The Reds did just enough to beat the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday night to seal their first final appearance since their historic maiden Super Rugby title in 2011, as they scraped home 25-13.

A late try to flying winger Filipo Daugunu blew the final margin out a touch, but in reality the final scoreline didn't reflect the tightness of the game.

Indeed, had Billy Meakes' pass not drifted slightly forward it could well have been the Rebels who were celebrating with the Rebels on top for large stages of the match in the second half.

"I feel really good about it, I was thinking what I would say in here around that game," reflected Reds coach Brad Thorn after the tense victory.

"It wasn't the prettiest of games, it wasn't one of our best games.

"You're trying to make a grand final and it's do-or-die and it was 10-all at half-time and the Rebels were hanging in the fight.

"Sometimes to win those type of games are actually really good development for the guys to win a game like that which is tight and niggly and things are not going exactly to plan."

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The Reds' victory means they will play the Brumbies for the second time in two weeks, after putting on a clinic in the final round of the regular season by knocking off the minor premiers 26-7 at home.

But the Reds can expect a much sterner test in a week's time.

While the Reds were at their best in the final round, with little to play for other than some momentum Dan McKellar's Brumbies were just a fraction off.

On top of that, the Reds will have to overturn recent history where the Brumbies have won their past six matches at home at GIO Stadium against the Reds.

The last time the Reds traveled down to the nation's capital and won was back in the opening round of 2014 when Chris Feauai-Sautia came off the bench to score after a Jesse Mogg error and iced the game.

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It's been a horrid run for the Reds since then though, with the Reds embarrassed on a number of occasions since then.

Even still, they'll take some confidence away from their previous two encounters in Canberra in 2020 where the Reds were beaten on the bell on both occasions.

"We went down five weeks ago and with the team, I've never really carried on us about us travelling away," Thorn said.

"The mindset from day dot, we'd go to South Africa and Argentina and we always talked about we travel well and from the performances, even in that first year, I think we went down to the Hurricanes by four points that year. There were other games that didn't faze us.

"You're just best to be prepared for whatever it is, it's not an excuse and it's about performance and it's just (about) having a good mindset and getting down there and competing."

By finishing on top of the Super Rugby AU standings the Brumbies automatically qualified for the final.

This season has shown that the side coming off the bye-round has performed well and Thorn said the Brumbies will have benefited from having the extra week off to prepare for the match.

"I think there's probably a healthy competition between the two clubs," he said.

"There's been a lot of close ones in the last few years. Each year they've won one down there and we've won one up our way three years in a row now.

"We've had a few games down there this year with the COVID break, it's a heck of a challenge.

"We've got a good opponent.

"They've had a two week break to study and work away at their stuff.

"It's exciting for both sides. It's a grand final.

"Both sides will be going at it and we'll see where that ends up. Either way I'd say it'll be a pretty rowdy plane trip home."

 

Not helping the Reds is injury concerns to a couple of their key backs.

Outside centre Jordan Petaia failed a head injury assessment late in the first half, while winger Feauai-Sautia suffered a groin injury.