The Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels have played out an 18-18 draw in professional rugby’s historic first golden-point extra-time finish in the new Super Rugby AU tournament.

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A last-minute try to Reds replacement Alex Mafi, followed by James O’Connor’s coolly slotted conversion after the Super Rugby siren, forced the all-Australian contest into overtime on Friday night.

Fittingly, Sydney’s Brookvale Oval, Manly’s NRL base, was the setting for the very rugby league-like scoreline after Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus forced Melbourne’s “home” match to be played interstate.

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But the two sides were booed off the park by sections of the crowd after neither was able to nail victory. Reds full-back Bryce Hegarty narrowly missed a monster penalty goal effort from halfway on the stroke of ‘super time’ half-time.

Despite not bagging the full points, the draw eased the pressure somewhat on under-fire Rebels coach Dave Wessels.

Former Wallaby and ex-Melbourne attack coach Morgan Turinui claimed during the week the South African was no longer the man to guide the Rebels following a lacklustre loss to the Brumbies in last week’s competition opener.

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Wessels had every reason to think his Rebels had done enough to secure victory over the Reds when they led by ten points with five minutes remaining following an intercept try to Billy Meakes.

But an O’Connor penalty goal in the 75th minute – after he had thrown the errant pass to Meakes – and Alex Mafi’s last-gasp strike proved a killer for the Rebels.

The exciting finish was in stark contrast to a dour first half played in mostly driving rain. The Rebels opened the scoring with a penalty to five-eighth Matt Toomua in the eighth minute.

Bizarrely, given the wet conditions, the Rebels turned down another gift three points shortly after, declining a shot from in front of the posts only for Toomua to then attempt a long-range field goal from a returning lineout a minute later. They still went to the break with a 6-0 lead after Toomua landed a second penalty.

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Wallabies and Reds legend John Eales was in the house and he finally had something to cheer about when O’Connor put Filipo Daugunu over in the left corner with a lovely long ball to the winger. O’Connor then gave the Reds the lead for the first time with a 42-metre penalty.

It didn’t last long, though, with Wallabies star Reece Hodge, after surprisingly starting on the bench, sliding over for the Rebels’ second try in the 55th minute.

REBELS 18 (Reece Hodge, Bill Meakes tries, Matt To’omua con 2 pens)
QUEENSLAND REDS 18 (Filipo Daugunu, Alex Mafi tries, James O’Connor con 2 pens)

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