Super Rugby AU whets appetite for trans-Tasman main course | Bret Harris

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The Queensland Reds beat the defending champions, the Brumbies, 19-16 in a memorable Tremendous Rugby AU ultimate in entrance of 42,000 spectators at Suncorp Stadium over the weekend. However the Australian groups might want to go to a different degree to prevail within the highly-anticipated trans-Tasman competitors, which begins on Friday night time with the Highlanders internet hosting the Reds in Dunedin.

The nation’s greatest should begin to bridge the hole with their New Zealand rivals to assist Australia regain its place as one of many main nations of world rugby, however they nonetheless appear to be lagging behind the Kiwis. For all the fervour of Saturday’s ultimate, the sport was not performed at fairly the identical excessive normal because the Crusaders’ 24-13 win towards the Chiefs within the ultimate of the Tremendous Rugby Aotoeroa competitors.

Whereas the Reds and the Brumbies have proven they need to be aggressive with many of the New Zealand sides, it’s troublesome to see the Melbourne Rebels, NSW Waratahs and Western Power matching it with the Kiwis. In Tremendous Rugby AU the underside three sides between them sprung just one upset win towards the highest two groups – the Power’s 30-27 win towards the Reds within the ultimate spherical in Perth – and that was in a sport through which the consequence didn’t matter. How will they beat the Kiwis?

Even the Brumbies could battle. Coming off the frustration of dropping the ultimate, the Brumbies are nonetheless carrying accidents to key gamers and have been given a troublesome draw within the trans-Tasman competitors, together with a primary spherical match towards the Crusaders in Christchurch. It could be left to the Reds to hold the flag for Australia, however will they be any match for the likes of the Crusaders or the Chiefs?

Apparently, the Reds received the Tremendous Rugby AU title by adopting the Crusaders’ conventional trait of dominating on the again finish of video games. Overpowering opposition within the final 20 minutes has been a distinguishing attribute since Queensland coach Brad Thorn performed for the Crimson and Blacks within the early and late 2000s.

The Crusaders obtain ascendancy within the final quarter of video games by manipulating the defence within the first 60 minutes and by having superior health and larger depth on the bench. They’ve additionally developed an unflinching confidence in their very own capability, which separates them even from the opposite New Zealand groups.

Thorn seems to have put in this mentality into the Reds, who got here from behind 3 times this season to defeat the Brumbies, twice within the spherical robin and once more within the ultimate. The Reds trailed by 17 factors in Canberra and by 12 factors in Brisbane of their wins towards the Brumbies within the common season and had been behind 13-6 at half-time final Saturday night time.

In truth, the Reds didn’t take the lead till captain and five-eighth James O’Connor scored the match-winning attempt within the eighty fifth minute, however they by no means gave up, by no means doubted they might win. With the Brumbies main 16-12, momentum swung in the direction of the Reds when ACT five-eighth Noah Lolesio was known as for a ahead go to substitute hooker Folau Faingaa within the 72nd minute, a call hotly disputed by Brumbies supporters.

From the following scrum rookie Reds outside-centre Josh Flook made a decisive break within the midfield, taking play deep into Brumbies territory. The Brumbies had a possibility to safe the win with a lineout in their very own territory within the 79th minute. They solely needed to throw the ball to the entrance and maintain onto it for a minute or so to win the sport, however the ball was inexplicably over-thrown to the again the place the Reds retrieved it.

James O’Connor’s redemption story continued within the Reds’ win over the Brumbies. {Photograph}: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Photographs

It took the Reds one other 5 minutes to provide you with the profitable attempt, however they had been affected person. The Reds had been awarded a penalty within the 83rd minute after the Brumbies scrum, which had been diminished to 6 males following the sin-binning of Darcy Swain and Luke Reimer, collapsed 5 metres out. As an alternative of choosing one other five-metre scrum towards an under-manned Brumbies pack, the Reds elected to faucet the ball and run.

Why did the Reds select that choice when tight-head prop Taniela Tupou was essentially the most dominant front-rower on the sector? Tupou had smashed the Brumbies scrum twice within the first-half, however considerably he was additionally penalised twice for angling in. It turned out to be an impressed selection. Tupou charged to the road, dragging Brumbies defenders in. From the ruck O’Connor waltzed throughout the road to attain, profitable the title and including one other chapter to his redemption story.

However the lopsided 20-8 penalty rely in favour of the Reds from the whistle of Queensland referee Nic Berry and controversy over a number of calls and non-calls, it could be churlish to begrudge the Reds their triumph, though you needed to really feel for the Brumbies. Whether or not both workforce are able to beating the Crusaders, or any of the opposite Kiwi sides, stays to be seen, however no less than they’ve whetted appetites for the principle meal.

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