The Queensland Reds have fallen 40-27 to the Brumbies at GIO Stadium Canberra in their final match of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
On a cold night in the nation’s capital, the Australian conference winners scored six tries to Queensland’s three to avenge their defeat to the Reds in Round 6 and retain the Rod Macqueen Cup with a 13-point victory.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “I’m proud of our guys, but just not meant to be tonight. Respect to the Brumbies, they were better on the night and we wish them well for the finals.
“We just don’t go away. That may not sound like much, but it means a lot to keep turning up and again tonight they competed hard,” said Thorn.
After pressuring the Brumbies line early, it was Queensland who opened the scoring, as Bryce Hegarty crossed for his seventh try of the season on the back of a well-placed Scott Malolua pass. Hegarty converted to give the Reds an early 7-nil advantage.
Taniela Tupou was shown a yellow-card for a dangerous tackle in the 15th minute and the Brumbies quickly capitalised on their one-man advantage with their first five-pointer through Andy Muirhead the scorer. Christian Lealiifano missed the conversion to ensure Queensland kept a slim 7-5 lead after the opening 19 minutes of play.
Hegarty added a penalty goal to stretch the Reds’ lead to 10-5 in the 30th minute, but their advantage was short-lived, after Lachie McCaffrey crossed on the back of a Brumbies five-metre scrum. Lealiifano slotted the conversion to give the home side their first lead of the night at 12-10 after 37 minutes.
The Brumbies put the score out to 19-10 on the stroke of halftime with a penalty try, as Scott Higginbotham was also shown a yellow card in the sequence.
With Higginbotham off the field in the opening ten minutes of the second-forty, the hosts exploited their one-man advantage with a two tries to Rory Arnold and Tom Wright respectively for a 23-point buffer.
Queensland hit back in the 53rd minute through Matt McGahan, after the flyhalf nailed a drop-goal from close to 40-metres out to cut the Brumbies lead to 33-13.
The Reds again reduced their deficit in the 62nd minute through a Duncan Paia’aua try, after Jock Campbell broke the line from inside his own half and found a charging Paia’aua on his inside to score. Hegarty converted to bring the Reds within two-converted tries with 15 minutes remaining.
Despite some inspired attack from the Queenslanders, the Brumbies added their sixth try in the 71st minute courtesy of Murray Douglas to make it 40-20.
With Queensland’s season entering its final minutes, the Reds continued to press the Brumbies’ line and were rewarded with a third try when Liam Wright pierced the defence from eight metres out to score his second try of 2019. Hegarty added the extras to see the final score at 40-27.
Queensland Reds 27 (Tries: Hegarty, Paia’aua, Wright Conversions: Hegarty 3, Penalties: Hegarty 1, Drop Goals: McGahan 1) defeated by Brumbies 40 (Tries: Muirhead, McCaffery, Penalty Try, Arnold, Wright, Douglas Conversions: Lealiifano 3, Lonergan 1) at GIO Stadium Canberra