Reds outplay the Brumbies to take pole position on Super Rugby Pacific ladder
A 21-7 triumph ensured the hosts continued their seven-year unbeaten run against the Canberra side at Suncorp Stadium, fullback Jordan Petaia mixing brilliance with bloopers as his fullback apprenticeship continued.
Victory came despite a 33rd-minute red card to backrower Tuaina Tualima when his cleanout hit James Slipper high, the Reds crucially scoring through Fraser McReight during the 20-minute period they were a man down.
Tualima, who only started when Liam Wright hurt his ankle in the warm-up, followed prop Dane Zander in seeing red a week earlier, while Taniela Tupou was cited for a similar cleanout against the NSW Waratahs a fortnight ago.
Brumbies backrower Rob Valetini and replacement back Cam Clark, who scored the game’s first try, were both shown yellow cards for a high tackle and deliberate knock down respectively in the second half.
Clark’s effort put the Brumbies up 7-3 but the Reds, despite constant fumbles, stayed in the game thanks to scrum penalties and twice stopping the visitors’ potent rolling maul on their line.
Petaia’s night fluctuated, the talent making a clean break through the centre of the field late in the first half, but failing to find his support as a try went begging.
He stayed involved at the resumption, jostling for and catching a James O’Connor bomb that led to McReight’s match-turning try.
His kicks for touch were also confident and deep in a fourth consecutive appearance at fullback ahead of next week’s Wallabies training camp.
But his performance was soured by several handling bloopers, a knock-on robbing a wide-open Filipo Daugunu of a certain try, moments before the winger did cross in his 50th Super Rugby game for the eventual match-sealer.
McReight was among the Reds best while Valetini was the focus of the Brumbies’ running game and Nick Frost continued his strong 2022 form.
– Murray Wenzel
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