The Plus500 Brumbies have gone down at the death to the Queensland Reds, 19-16 in the Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium.
Stand-in Reds skipper James O’Connor’s try after the final bell denied the Brumbies back to back Australian titles, the side having fought valiantly for the full 80 minutes and beyond.
In front of more than 40,000 Queenslanders, the Brumbies led for the majority of the game, O’Connor’s early penalty getting the scoring going before a period of Brumbies dominance.
Tom Banks would draw first blood for the Brumbies, Noah Lolesio’s offload seeing the fullback glide over the chalk after some textbook Brumbies rugby.
The two sides would trade penalties, but a second successful shot at goal from Lolesio would give the Brumbies the lead heading into the break, 13-6.
Having kept the raucous Queensland crowd quiet during the opening 40, the Brumbies looked to start the second period as they finished the first, though the Reds came out firing for the closing chapter on the yearlong rivalry.
The Reds clearly had the ascendency in the second half, and though they couldn’t break the Brumbies line, O’Connor was able to add two more penalties.
The Brumbies then lost Rob Valetini to the sin-bin, and although the dynamic backrows 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 missed lineout which would have certainly killed the game gave the Reds a sniff.
The Brumbies would also lose both Darcy Swain and Luke Reimer to cards in the closing moments. Down to 13, the Brumbies simply ran out of bodies, and O’Connor was able to dive over for the match winner.
His conversion was immaterial to the result, the home side snatching victory at the death, 19-16.
The Plus500 Brumbies now set out on their tour of New Zealand and Harvey Norman Super Rugby Trans Tasman, starting with the Crusaders in Christchurch, Saturday 15 May.
Plus500 Brumbies 16 (T: T. Banks; C: Lolesio; P: Lolesio 3) def by Queensland Reds 19 (T: J.O’Connor; C: O’Connor; P: O’Connor 4)