The Reds ended a five-game losing streak against the Brumbies, beating the men from Canberra 16-15 in wet and foggy conditions at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on the last play of the match.
Quade Cooper kicked the 80th-minute penalty to give his team their fourth win of the season, but it was Hamish Stewart’s maiden Super Rugby try with eight minutes remaining that set the comeback in motion.
The Brumbies, who never looked like losing, dominated the set pieces and tight phases, taking a 6-15 lead after a penalty try and a score by Kyle Godwin. But, sport and life do not work like this.
The game was played in unusual conditions for Brisbane, a heavy fog hung around and the field was cutting up after every scrum, especially as the game wore on.
This made handling tough, both sides making handling errors and struggling to hold the ball in contact. It took 26 minutes before any points were scored.
Wharenui Hawera kicked the penalty to put the visitors up by three before two Cooper penalties before half-time gave the Queensland side a slender 6-3 lead.
With tough playing conditions, points were at a premium; the Brumbies turned down two shots in the first 40 minutes, which might have had a bearing on the outcome.
In a game like this, it was only fitting that the first try was a penalty try. The Reds were bulldozed by a beast of a rolling maul.
George Smith and Stephen Moore entered from the side, but it was Smith who was sin-binned for collapsing the maul on their try line.
Four minutes’ later, Godwin went over. Cooper gathered a kick but was tackled by Tom Banks, over the in-goal area.
Cooper was turned over, losing the ball trying to offload and Godwin jumped on the loose ball for his second try of the season.
That was the second time the standoff lost the ball attempting to clean up a kick at the back. Hawera missed the conversion – another telling missed kick.
By now, all the momentum was with the team from Canberra, their lineout was good, they won a scrum against the head and their pack was dominating.
But, the Reds did not give up, instead, they found some mojo and started to put some phases together, culminating in Stewart’s try.
Duncan Paia’aua made a break down the field and took the ball into the Brumbies’ 22. The Reds went through some quick phases before going wide.
Karmichael Hunt threw a skip pass to Smith and the flanker offloaded inside to Stewart, who dived in to score.
It was a pass between the oldest and the youngest Reds’ players and the first try in nearly 170 minutes for the home team against the Brumbies. Cooper’s conversion made it 13-15.
Despite having the better of play, the Brumbies, somehow, conspired to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory after botching up a defensive lineout and being held up, giving the Queenslanders one last chance to win the derby.
The Reds went to the boot from a scrum, Hunt kicked long and pinned the visitors back on their 10 metres’ line. The Brumbies got the throw but lost the ball in the maul after being held up.
Another series of play saw Cooper charge forward and play a wonderful inside pass back to Izaia Perese, who got outside Jarred Butler; then the referee blew for a penalty for offside.
The Wallaby flyhalf, from in front, won the game.
Final Score: Reds 16 (6) Brumbies 15 (3)
Tries – Stewart
Pen – Cooper (3)
Con – Cooper
Cards – Smith (Yellow, 51st minute)
Tries – Penalty try, Godwin
Pen – Hawera
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2: Rohan Hoffman
TMO: Ian Smith
15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Adam Korczyk, 7 George Smith, 6 Rob Simmons, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Sef Fa’agase.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Markus Vanzati, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Chris Kuridrani.
15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Aidan Toua, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Les Makin, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Nigel Ah Wong, 23 Andrew Smith