The Queensland Reds secured a home Rugby AU Grand Final after claiming a stunning come-from-behind 24-22 win over the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium.
Trailing by nine-points with less than 30-minutes to play, a spectacular Jordan Petaia aerial try and following James O’Connor penalty put the Reds into their first lead of the night in the 76th minute, with the side holding on for a dramatic two-point victory in front of a crowd of more than 19,000.
The win sees Queensland reclaim the Rod Macqueen Cup while also maintaining their unbeaten run in 2021.
Fullback Bryce Hegarty celebrated his 100th Super Rugby cap in the win, as Queensland clinched their tenth-straight victory at Suncorp Stadium.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “It was a great game between two worthy teams - there was just positives.
“Massive respect to the Brumbies - they came in and left it all out there. It was two teams going at it. It’s just good for rugby – let’s have more of it.
“I’m so proud of the guys in the maroon jerseys. Our guys won’t go away. They don’t know how to do that. It’s such a great quality. I have faith in them they’ll get the job done and they did that tonight,” said Thorn.
Brumbies hooker Folau Fainga’a opened the scoring with a signature rolling maul five-pointer, with a Tom Banks intercept try and Noah Lolesio conversion stretching the visitors’ advantage to 12-nil by the 14th minute.
A pair of O’Connor penalty goals cut the Reds’ deficit to 12-6 by the half-hour mark, before milestone-man Hegarty was denied a try by the TMO in his 100th game.
Nic White kicked his side into a 15-6 lead on the stroke of half-time, the scrumhalf slotting a 50-metre penalty goal as momentum ebbed at flowed in a physical contest at Suncorp Stadium.
Josh Flook had the first points of the second half, after a pinpoint O’Connor kick found a flying Jock Campbell down the sideline. Campbell regathered, and eventually linked with his young outside-centre who crashed over close to the left-hand corner. O’Connor made no mistake with the conversion to bring Queensland within two points at 15-13 with 30-minutes to play.
The Brumbies quickly hit back through Tom Wright who scored his side’s third try of the match, Lolesio’s second penalty giving the visitors a 22-13 lead.
Two pieces of Petaia brilliance delivered Queensland their second try in the 65th minute. The winger propelling his side downfield with an inch-perfect 50-22, before leaping above the Brumbies’ defence to bring down an O’Connor bomb and score. O’Connor missed the difficult conversion chance, the Reds trailing 22-18 with 14-minutes to play.
A third O’Connor penalty put Queensland within one-point with 10-minutes on the clock, before the captain had the chance to kick his side into their first lead of the match in the 75th minute with a 30-metre penalty goal. O’Connor again made no mistake, putting Queensland ahead 24-22 with just two-minutes to play.
With a home Grand Final on the line, the Brumbies launched a final attacking raid, but as they have done so many times this year, the Reds again repelled their attempts, Angus Scott-Young secured the do-or-die turnover as the side held on for a two-point win.
Queensland have a bye in Round 9, before travelling to Perth to take on the Western Force in the final round of regular-season fixtures.
DO NOT GO IN HIGH ON TANIELA TUPOU!😳 pic.twitter.com/dgzbYMuNhz— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) April 10, 2021
The side will be back on their home turf for the Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU Grand Final on 8 May. Ticket details will be announced this week.
Queensland Reds 24 (Tries: Flook, Petaia, Conversions: O’Connor, Penalties: O’Connor 4) defeated Brumbies 22 (Tries: Fainga’a, Banks, Wright, Conversions: Lolesio 2, Penalties: White) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on 10 April, 2021.