Brumbies fight off Reds to take mantle as only undefeated side in Super Rugby
Having been brutalised in a tough first half in which they had just 35 per cent possession, the Brumbies dug deep to prevail, in the process improving to 5-0 for the season.
In a pulsating conclusion, the Reds seemed through to score when captain Fraser McReight kicked the ball forward but he could not gather it when it hit the post and bounced back for the Brumbies to ground it in goal in the 79th minute.
Reds fans perhaps felt hard done by, with McReight appearing to have been held early in his kick chase.
The Brumbies were lucky to lead at the half despite spending most of it on the back foot, with a sensational Tom Wright try on 29 minutes putting them in front.
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He struck against the run of play, with the winger benefiting from a delightful kick from Irae Simone sitting up for him to ground for a 10-7 advantage on a rare trip into deep Reds territory.
Noah Lolesio slotted the first points of the night on 14 minutes with a penalty before James O’Connor got the Reds on the board after 25 minutes, dummying and dancing around Brumbies to score under the posts and give his side a 7-3 lead.
Scrum penalties flowed on either side with the front rows given a stern lecture by referee Damon Murphy in the shadows of halftime.
Murphy did a good job keeping a fiery contest under control, an early penalty reversal that cost the Reds a chance to search for points deep in opposition territory reminding players to maintain their cool.
Jahrome Brown crossed on 55 minutes after a powerful rolling maul but video review showed his foot was in touch before he grounded the ball.
The Brumbies continued their second-half surge and forced a number of penalties deep in opposition territories, with Nic White slotting a kick for 13-7.
The Reds could have led but O’Connor pushed the conversion narrowly wide with his side still down 13-12.
The Brumbies replied by adding three points via penalty, having had the ball in the Reds’ 22 after a sharp box kick from substitute scrum-half Ryan Lonergan forced the visitors to ground the ball in goal.
Lolesio left the game early in the second half having nursed an ankle injury.
– Alex Mitchell
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