* required fields
The St.George Queensland Reds win the Rod Macqueen Cup for the first time as their FxPro Super Rugby final chances receive a massive boost following a gruelling 13-12 derby victory over the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.
The Reds now remain within striking distance of the Australian Conference lead and a place in the finals, which will be further enhanced next week with a scheduled bye guaranteeing the Queenslanders four competition points.
“The win keeps us in the finals hunt,” coach Ewen McKenzie said.
“We’ve now got three games left and a bye while the Brumbies have to play four. We’ll continue to go about our business and put pressure on the best we can.”
The match came down to the wire with the Brumbies missing what would have been a match-winning penalty goal after the final siren, giving the Reds just their second ever Super Rugby victory in Canberra against the Brumbies.
Fullback Luke Morahan was the only try scorer from the match while centre Mike Harris enjoyed a perfect night with the boot, kicking one conversion and two penalties.
Morahan showed amazing skill to open the scoring for the Reds, beginning the movement by securing a high ball under pressure before finishing it with a perfectly executed chip-and-chase try.
The encounter was a typically physical derby contest with the Reds successful tactic of pinning the Brumbies in their own half severely limiting the home side’s attacking opportunities and saw them finish with just four penalty goals.
The Reds employed a similar tactic in their 20-13 success against the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium earlier in the season and have now limited them to just 25 points during their two-game series.
The Reds have now won three consecutive games – against the Chiefs, Lions and Brumbies – leading into next week’s bye and subsequent month-long June Test window.
Despite sitting five points below the Brumbies on the ladder, the Reds at this stage have won one extra match as compared to their ACT counterparts, with five of their eight successes in 2012 coming against Australian Conference rivals.
Mercurial Reds playmaker Quade Cooper will take plenty from the rugged encounter after successfully getting through 80 minutes of Rugby in just his second match since returning from a long injury layoff.
The only negative to come from the game was a hamstring injury to inspirational Reds and Wallabies captain James Horwill, where his leg was caught awkwardly at the bottom of a ruck.
Scrumhalf and vice-captain Will Genia said it was a great result for the Reds.
“We spoke about having plenty of energy and enthusiasm and we had that. I’m very proud of the effort,” Genia said.
“We go into the bye with a good result and will come out of it with a positive attitude. It was great to get a result tonight.”
Morahan’s five-pointer was the only scoring opportunity in the early stages of the match before the Brumbies clawed their way back into the encounter through two penalty goals to flyhalf Zach Holmes.
It appeared the match was headed for a 7-6 scoreline at halftime although the Reds took a four-point buffer into the break after Mike Harris knocked over his first penalty goal for the match, coming after Genia applied pressure at the back of the Brumbies scrum to draw a penalty.
The second half was a mostly stop-start affair – the final penalty count reaching 12-8 in favour of the home side - with the Brumbies adding a further six points through penalties while Harris kicked his second penalty of the match.
The Reds are expecting to feature heavily in the Wallabies squad announcement tomorrow ahead of upcoming Tests against Scotland and Wales.
Following the June Test window, the Reds will play three more regular season games– against the Rebels in Melbourne and Highlanders and Waratahs at home.
During the Test break the Reds will also play an exhibition match against the Hurricanes on the Sunshine Coast. Tickets for that match can be purchased at www.ticketek.com.au.
St.George Queensland Reds 13 (Luke Morahan try; Mike Harris con, 2 pens) def Brumbies 12 (Zach Holmes 4 pens)
24 MAY 2013
23 MAY 2013
22 MAY 2013