Brumbies stun Reds with dramatic late penalty in Super Rugby AU
The ACT Brumbies pulled off a last-gasp escape act on Saturday with a Mack Hansen penalty after the full-time siren earning them a nail-biting 22-20 win over the Queensland Reds.
The Reds rallied from 14-3 down at the break with 17 unanswered points and looked set to snap a six-year losing streak in Canberra, only for heartbreak at the death.
It kept the Brumbies unbeaten in Super Rugby AU with four wins to top the table, seven points clear of the Reds in second.
Skipper Alan Alaalatoa admitted they rode their luck after intense Reds pressure.
"I think we did get out of jail, but you have to take your hat off to Mack there at the clutch moment," he said. "But credit also to the Reds, they put us only pressure for the whole second half. But I'm really proud about how we found a way to win."
It was a cruel blow for the youthful, and impressive, Reds.
"That's a tough one. I think we did so many things right tonight, which was a massive improvement for us, and we fought to the end," said captain Liam Wright.
"But the Brumbies are a class outfit and they know when to take the pressure and use it against you."
Renowned for their set-piece strength, the Brumbies applied all the early pressure and executed a perfect rolling maul from a lineout after just five minutes with Folau Fainga'a crashing over to open the score.
It was the hooker's fifth try in as many games at home, with young prospect Bayley Kuenzie adding the extras to put them 7-0 in front.
The clash became an intense battle with crunching defence from both sides before the Brumbies produced another try in similar circumstances.
Again their forward pack, spearheaded by James Slipper and Alaalatoa, proved too strong, with Fainga'a once more getting the five points from a driving maul and Kuenzie converting.
But the Reds showed backbone and fullback Jordan Petaia, in his first outing since February after dislocating his shoulder, was unlucky to have a try disallowed after the half-time buzzer when a video replay showed a high tackle at the start of the move.
It sent them to the break seemingly disillusioned, but they returned on fire with two tries in an electric opening five minutes after the restart.
Petaia was again involved, offloading to Harry Wilson for the first before Angus Scott-Young barged over for a second, with James O'Connor converting both then kicking a penalty to put them 20-14 in front.
It set up an exciting finale with a third Brumbies try from the maul, this time to Lachlan McCaffrey, pulling it back to 20-19 with four minutes left. Hansen missed the conversion but was handed another shot at glory after full-time and this time made no mistake.