Super Rugby

Resilient Reds down Melbourne Rebels in thriller




The Queensland Reds fought back to beat the Melbourne Rebels 23-21 in a thrilling Super Rugby AU contest at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

Matt To’omua, who had been near flawless from the kicking-tee, had a chance to win the match with a 42-metre last-ditch penalty in overtime.

However, the 31-year-old pulled his kick inches past the left-hand upright to the delight of the home crowd and the opposition, who celebrated the comeback like a playoff win.

The resilient Reds, who trailed for the game up until the 78th-minute, and played with 14 men for 20 minutes after Feao Fotuaika’s red card, celebrated the points after To’omua’s stray last-play kick.

Hooker Alex Mafi grabbed a brace, the second try with minutes remaining to level the scores as Queensland won a thrilling Super Rugby AU clash at a hot and humid Suncorp Stadium.

Mafi, who was sensational, could and should have had a hat-trick but for some sloppy handling before his second score.

It was a typically tight, tense Aussie derby that took 48 minutes before the first try was scored by the magnificent Mafi, who scored the only tries of a game dominated by the boot and the referee’s whistle.

James O’Connor kicked 13 points in a duel with his opposite number, who added 18 points from six goals.

Reece Hodge kicked one of two penalty attempts, but the failure to score tries, and the missed kicks by both To’omua and Hodge, proved the difference in a tight, close affair.

Tim Sampson’s side looked well-conditioned as Brad Thorn’s side looked to play at a high-tempo in the thought that the underdogs would be under-cooked.

Sampson’s side was anything but undercooked; they looked the fitter team.

They played the percentages of a Test match, taking all the points at every opportunity as they looked to build a lead through opposition mistakes.

An error-strewn first half had little in the way of quality as the two sides struggled with the late summer conditions on Australia’s east coast

Queensland made nine handling errors, conceded nine turnovers, and gave away seven penalties, five of which were kickable.

The teams could not fashion many clear-cut chances, although, it was the home team who looked rusty despite having been superb against the Waratahs last weekend.

All the opening stanza’s points came from the boots of standoffs To’omua and O’Connor, who kicked six penalties between themselves as the visitors led 12-6 at the interval.

Super Rugby AU Round 2 Video Highlights: Queensland Reds vs Melbourne Rebels, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

The standoffs took every kickable opportunity, with each missing a shot at goal as well.

The Reds continued their ill-discipline after the restart, allowing To’omua to extend the Rebels‘ lead to two scores with his fifth penalty, five minutes after halftime.

However, soon afterward, the Rebels gave away a penalty that allowed O’Connor to kick to the corner. The Reds, who were excellent with their driving maul last weekend, set-up a drive.

The Melbourne pack had no answer this time as Queensland powered their way over the chalk. It was a team effort, but hooker Mafi flopped over for his second try of the season.

O’Connor’s conversion reduced the gap to two before Hodge’s monster boot opened the Rebels’ lead to five points on 53 minutes.

Five minutes later, the game turned in favour of the visitors when Fotuaika got his marching orders for a dangerous shot to the head of Richard Hardwick.

It was all Reds for the rest of the contest, as they looked for a comeback win against the odds

The hosts played out the next 20 minutes with 14 men, although, O’Connor did kick his third penalty soon after.

The captain’s crucial third goal, coupled with Hodge missing from almost in front, kept Thorn’s men in a two-point game with a quarter of an hour to play.

The Reds had most of the territory and possession in the second half, but every time the Rebels made their way into enemy territory, they took the points.

To’omua slotted his sixth penalty-goal to reopen the five-point lead.

Joe Powell almost gave up an embarrassing score to debutant flier Suliasi Vunivalu, a minute later. The scrumhalf left a rolling ball alone, hoping it would roll out the back of the in-goal.

However, the ball sat up, in what seemed like an eternity. Vunivalu’s hand almost dotted down, but Powell got the ball out.

Mafi thought he scored his second after a barnstorming run down the touchline. But the hooker knocked on when after he was tripped up, and the score did not stand.

It did not matter because the hosts went back to their full quota of players and increased the pressure. The visitors, who had been stubborn in defence, finally wilted.

With time ticking down, the opposition tiring, the Reds went for some razzle-dazzle in the forwards with an unexpected lineout move.

Mafi barged his way over at the death after a well-worked faked rolling maul.

Then O’Connor put his side ahead for the first time in the clash before the agonising denouement broke Victorian hearts.

Cue scenes.

Final Score: Reds 23 (6) Rebels 21 (12)


Tries – Mafi (2)
Pen – O’Connor (3)
Con – O’Connor (2)
Drop –
Cards – Fotuaika (Red, 57′)

Tries –
Pen – To’omua (6), Hodge
Con –
Drop –
Cards –


Match Officials
Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Aaron Pook
TMO: Brett Cronan



15 Jock Campbell, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Seru Uru, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Dane Zander

Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Feao Fotuaika, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 Sam Wallis, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu


15 Tom Pincus, 14 Lachlan Anderson, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Brad Wilkin, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cabous Eloff

Replacements: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Isaac Aedo Kailea, 18 Rhys van Nek, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Josh Kemeny, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Glen Vaihu, 23 Frank Lomani

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