Brumbies fans will be wondering where this team has been all season after their side produced a superbly committed display to defeat the table topping Reds at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday. The side from Canberra have endured a torrid season losing a franchise record 10 matches, and receiving constant criticism not just from the fans but also from the coaching staff for a lack of commitment in games.
But the visitors were ahead inside the first minute through the boot of Matt Giteau. Quade Cooper quickly levelled the scores four minutes later, and the two fly-halves exchanged penalties again to leave the score at 6-6 after 10 minutes. The Brumbies were showing no fear and were going toe-to-toe with the Reds who were looking for their 13th consecutive home victory. Their defence was solid and they were quick to close down the forward runners, which meant Will Genia and Quade Cooper had very little front foot ball to unleash the potent back-line.
Giteau added his third penalty goal after 16 minutes, before the visitors scored the first try of the match after 20 minutes. The Brumbies rumbled into the Reds 22 and were using quick drives around the fringes to edge them closer to the line, a fantastic offload out the back of the hand by scrum-half Patrick Phibbs was collected by Ita Vaea who threw a simple inside pass to hooker Stephen Moore who crashed over under the posts. Giteau added the simplest of conversions to give the Brumbies a 16-6 lead.
The Brumbies continued to starve the Reds of any quality possession and the league leaders were becoming increasingly frustrated by the Brumbies defence. Veteran number eight Radike Samo managed to create some space with a good dummy and broke the line, but threw a awful pass to winger Luke Morahan and a good chance went begging, it summed up the Reds evening a lack of execution costing them.
After 30 minutes Giteau added his fourth penalty with another confident strike to extend the Brumbies lead to 13 points. The Reds did manage to cross the line just a couple of minutes before the break. A strong run by winger Digby Ioane got the Reds over the gain-line and behind the Brumbies defence, quick recycled ball allowed Cooper to move the ball onto full-back Ben Lucas who managed to squirm over from five metres out. Cooper couldn't add the conversion and the Reds trailed 11-19 at the break.
The second half started with a slick move from the Reds back-line, but once again their execution let them down when Saia Faingaa couldn't deliver the simple ball to his brother Anthony and another golden chance went begging. But that was the only time the Reds really threatened in the second period, the Brumbies continued to dominate the collision and the breakdown. Genia was becoming irate with his forwards inability to break the Brumbies defence and cross the advantage line.
Cooper was experiencing something that hasn't happened to him all season which is playing the game on the back-foot and he was unable to create anything to trouble the visitors. The 50/50 passes and offloads that have been sticking this year were going to ground, the Reds looked out of ideas.
Cooper did close the gap after 56 minutes with a brilliant penalty, but that was as good as it got.
There was a long break in play as Digby Ioane was knocked unconscious by a swinging arm from Vaea, the winger left the field on a stretcher and fans all over Australia will be hoping he will make a speedy recovery.
Giteau really controlled the game in the last 20 minutes, kicking the corners and controlling his forwards extremely well. The experienced Brumbies captain was really giving Quade Cooper a lesson and showed the Australian selectors that he could be more than a bench warmer in the Tri-Nations and the World Cup.
The Toulon bound man then denied the Reds a losing bonus point with a penalty in the 80th minute which sealed a 22-14 victory for the Brumbies. The victory was more comfortable than the score-line suggests, the Brumbies were in complete control throughout and their defensive display was one of the best in any league this season. The Reds looked fatigued after their massive performance against the Crusaders a week ago.
Man of the Match