Reds topple Brumbies in epic thriller

Sat, 13/03/2021, 10:40 am
Darren Walton - AAP
by Darren Walton - AAP
A first try in Rugby for Reds recruit Suliasi Vunivalu.

The Queensland Reds have shattered the Brumbies aura of invincibility with a thrilling last-gasp 40-38 Super Rugby AU win over the defending champions in Canberra.

A spectacular try a minute from fulltime to Wallabies centre Jordan Petaia snatched a Reds victory from the jaws of defeat in a point-a-minute classic on Saturday night.

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Winners of 18 of their previous 19 games in the national capital, the Brumbies looked to be cruising again after racing to a 17-0 lead inside a quarter of an hour.

But, led by destructive front-rower Taniela Tupou, the Reds reeled in the Brumbies to pull off a famous win at the Brumbies' GIO Stadium fortress.

Tupou almost single-handedly dragged the Reds back into the contest, helping to force a succession of second-half scrum penalties then scoring a powerhouse try.

A 72nd-minute try to replacement Brumbies winger Issak Fines, after a lovely last pass from Samu, appeared to have snuffed out the Reds' comeback.

That was until Petaia remarkably palmed off a goal upright and beat two Brumbies players to pounce on Hunter Paisami's probing grubber kick and level the scores before skipper James O'Connor converted from in front as the clock wound down.

Harry Wilson had only two minutes earlier given the Reds a glimmer of hope with Queensland's third try to reduce the deficit to five points.

Prized recruit Suliasi Vunivalu had a mixed starting debut for the Reds.

The former Melbourne NRL star did what he does best, bagging his maiden Super Rugby AU try while also saving the Reds from conceding a five-pointer with his blinding speed.

But, starting for the first time after serving a suspension, Vunivalu also spilt a bomb when looking shaky under the high ball, then came off his wing, allowing the Brumbies to cross out wide for their third try late in the first half.

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Four of the Brumbies' five five-pointers came from forwards, doubles from seagulling No.8 Pete Samu and driving-maul try-king Folau Faingaa seemingly set to send Dan McKellar's men nine points clear of their challengers on the competition table.

But the Reds had the final say after throwing everything at the Brumbies in pursuit of a first win in the national capital in seven years.

In a showdown between the competition's only two unbeaten teams, the Brumbies led 24-16 at halftime with the Reds relying on a series of penalties from skipper James O'Connor to stay in touch.

Vunivalu's try on the half hour, from a sniping run from halfback Tate McDermott and O'Connor's straight running in support, ignited Queensland's fightback.

BRUMBIES 38

Tries: Samu 2, Fainga'a 2, Fines-Leleiwasa

Cons: Lolesio 4, Lonergan

Pens: Lolesio 

REDS 40

Tries: Vunivalu, Tupou, Wilson, Petaia

Cons: O'Connor 4

Pens: O'Connor 4 

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