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Resilient Brumbies fight back to edge Reds in opening day derby

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Brumbies players celebrate a try during the round one Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Reds at GIO Stadium on January 31, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

The Brumbies powered to a 27-24 victory over the Reds to off to a winning start at a scorching GIO Stadium, Canberra.

The game kicked off with the mercury in the forties, making the early season that little bit harder for the players as Super Rugby kicked off its 25th season.

The home team hung on at the death to register a deserved win after outscoring the visitors four tries to three in a seesaw clash in the Australian Capital.

The Reds overturned a poor start to score 17 unanswered points to take a 10-point lead halftime lead.

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All three first-half tries came from an attacking lineout, however, the first two were not driving mauls but well-worked backline moves from quick ball off the top of the set-piece.

Bryce Hegarty’s try before halftime, came after some slow build-up play after the maul broke down.

However, the Brumbies came out of the shed firing, scoring 20 unanswered points of their own with three tries by Tom Wright, Folau Fainga’a and Tom Banks to lead 24-17 with 12 minutes remaining.

Super Rugby Video Highlights: Brumbies versus Reds at GIO Stadium, Canberra

Harry Wilson crashed over in the 77th-minute to pull the scores to within three after a Brumbies penalty minutes earlier, but the hosts hung on for a hard-fought win.

Brumbies start fast, but Queensland control of the first half

The heat meant for a slow-paced game and both teams struggled to string a series of phases together.

Early Brumbies pressure resulted in a couple of penalties that were kicked to the corner.

Irae Simone opened the scoring in the fifth minute after some early pressure led to the Reds giving away a couple of penalties inside their 22.

Banks kicked to the corner after Henry Speight – on his Adelaide return – was pinged trying to run a turnover out from inside his 22.

Solomone Kata’s strong run and some quick ball opened a running lane for Simone to score.

Tom Wright went close, soon after, but dropped the ball as he attempted to ground the ball over the line.

Queensland struggled to get anything going, and when they did, JP Smith threw a loose pass, which killed a promising attack outside the Brumbies’ 22.

However, a penalty afforded the Reds a chance to set up an attack near the Brumbies line.

A well-worked lineout saw stand-off Isaac Lucas get quick ball, drift wide, taking two defenders with him, and Speight to ghosted through to score under the posts after 18 minutes.

The try meant that Speight has now scored against every team in Super Rugby. Hegarty levelled from in front.

A big scrum, five minutes later, saw Taniela Tupou win Queensland a penalty inside their host’s 22.

The Tongan Thor was having a day in the scrums, earning a couple of penalties as his opposite number struggled to contain him.

Hegarty made no mistake, giving the Reds the lead on 25 minutes.

The Brumbies had an opportunity to level a few minutes later, but a poor lineout saw them concede possession, and the chance went begging.

It was a costly decision because, with a few seconds remaining before the break, Hegarty rounded Banks to increase Queensland’s lead, after a 16-phase attack following another scrum-penalty.

Brumbies fight back after the interval

The sweat on the ball made handling the ball tricky, and some poor hands cost the Reds a couple of good attacking opportunities.

The mistakes proved costly as Tom Wright finished off a slick counter-attack after the visitors turned the ball over.

The hosts attacked down the left, sending the ball to Tevita Kuridrani, who drew his man and put Wright away down the touchline.

The winger had work to do, standing up the defender before expertly finishing in the corner to reduce the deficit, to get his try.

The conversion was wide, but the gap was only five.

It did not matter because another Liam Wright penalty gave Banks the opportunity to kick a penalty to the corner.

The Brumbies were the best team from attacking lineouts, using their driving maul to devastating effect.

Hooker Fainga’a equalled try machine Malcolm Marx’s record for tries by a forward last season, dotting down 12 times, and he was at it again before the hour mark.

The hooker took the throw, ran around to gather the recycled ball, and only had to stay bound as the Brumbies forwards walked their opponents back over the whitewash to level the scores.

Lolesio was having a tough outing from the tee, missing from wide.

The stand-off’s kicking woes did not prove costly because his team found another gear.

Thrilling finale

The Brumbies were moving up a gear and looked to be the fitter team. Simone gathered Ryan Lonergan’s pass, drifted wide and played Banks through a hole with a deft inside pass.

Banks scored under the posts, after dancing his way through defenders, to put the hosts in front.

Lolesio kicked a 75th-minute penalty to make it a two-score game, but there was still time for the Reds to cause a scare.

James O’Connor busted through some weak tackles and took the ball to the five-metre line.

Seru Uru picked up and made a dart to the line, but was stopped short. Moses Sorovi popped to the onrushing Wilson, who crashed over soon after.

The Brumbies started to wobble. They gave knocked on inside the Queensland half, gave a scrum-penalty away, which allowed the visitors a last chance at a smash and grab victory.

If it were not for a handling mistake, however, from substitute halfback Moses Sorovi, who knocked on outside the Brumbies 22 with the last play of the game, the Reds might have found a winner.

Final Score: Brumbies 27 (7) Reds 24 (17) 


Tries – Simone, T. Wright, Fainga’a, Banks
Pen – Lolesio
Con – Lolesio (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Speight, Hegarty, Wilson
Pen – Hegarty
Con – Hegarty (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2: Graham Cooper
TMO: Ian Smith



15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.

Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 James Slipper, 19 Caderyn Neville, 20 Will Miller, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Andy Muirhead.


15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Isaac Lucas, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith.

Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Feao Fotuaika, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Hunter Paisami.

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