The Brumbies have suffered a heartbreaking 19-16 defeat to the Queensland Reds in the Super Rugby AU Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium.
The Brumbies led for much of the match until James O’Connor’s try well after the final bell gave the Reds victory. However, the match wasn’t without controversy as the Brumbies found themselves on the wrong end of a 20-8 penalty count from referee and former Reds player Nic Berry. While there is also vision suggesting Taniela Tupou knocked the ball on in the lead up to the final try.
In front of a monster crowd of over 40,000, the Reds scored first through a penalty goal before Tom Banks scored the opening try for the Brumbies after an offload from Noah Lolesio.
The two sides would trade penalties, but a second successful shot at goal from Lolesio would give the Brumbies a 13-6 lead heading into the break.
The Reds had the ascendency in the second half and O’Connor was able to add two more penalty goals before Lolesio got one back for the Brumbies to give them a four point lead after 70 minutes.
The Brumbies lost Rob Valetini to the sin-bin, and although the dynamic backrower’s loss wasn’t felt on the scoreboard, the energy reserves would eventually run out for the brave Brumbies.
Repeated penalties inside the Brumbies 22m zone, and a crucial missed lineout which would have certainly killed the game gave the Reds a chance.
The Brumbies were then reduced to 13 men as the final hooter went with both Darcy Swain and Luke Reimer sent to the sin bin. Down to 13, the Brumbies simply ran out of bodies, and O’Connor was able to dive over out wide for the match winner.
His conversion was immaterial to the result, the home side snatching victory at the death, 19-16.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar was clearly left unimpressed by Berry’s officiating.
“I can’t say too much, to be honest,” McKellar said after the game when asked about the decision to sin bin two of his players.
“Just as long as everyone is accountable for their performances out there tonight. I know the players are and the coaches are. That’s my only hope.
“I thought when we held the guy up, there was no advantage, then there was a penalty. That’s another crack. With 13 blokes, it became incredibly tough for us to hold them out. The boys were exhausted.
“Yeah, it’s an interesting game to watch.”
The Brumbies now set out on their tour of New Zealand and Harvey Norman Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, starting with the Super Rugby Aotearoa champions, the Crusaders, in Christchurch next Saturday night.
Plus500 Brumbies 16 (T: T. Banks; C: Lolesio; P: Lolesio 3)
Queensland Reds 19 (T: J.O’Connor; C: O’Connor; P: O’Connor 4)