Reds 19-16 Brumbies: O'Connor last-gasp try clinches Super Rugby AU title

By Sports Desk May 08, 2021

James O'Connor wrested victory from the clutches of the Brumbies as his late try gave the Reds a stunning 19-16 win in the Super Rugby AU final.

The dramatic intervention came in the 85th minute, with the Brumbies down to 13 players and desperately defending their line after Darcy Swain and Henry Stowers were sin-binned.

Kalani Thomas picked the ball up from the back of a maul near the try-line and fed a pass to O'Connor, who skidded over between two Brumbies players to thrill the large crowd inside Suncorp Stadium.

It gave the Reds revenge for their loss to the Brumbies in the 2020 final, and saw the Reds follow up finishing top of the regular season this time around by landing the trophy they longed for, a decade on from their last Super Rugby title.

O'Connor scored all the Reds' points, with his four penalties keeping the home team in touch before he added the late try and capped it with an immaculate conversion, the last act of the match.

A third-minute kick from O'Connor had nudged the Reds ahead, but Tom Banks capitalised on great play from Noah Lolesio to nudge the Brumbies in front 10 minutes later.

Lolesio added the extras and two penalties before half-time, with O'Connor also booting a further penalty for the Reds, as the Brumbies led 13-6 at the break.

O'Connor missed a penalty early in the second half but then proved more precise from his next two shots at goal, either side of Rob Valetini being sin-binned in the 61st minute for a high tackle on Jock Campbell.

Lolesio gave the Brumbies a 16-12 advantage for the closing stages after the Reds were penalised for an offside, but despite Valetini returning to the field, the men from Canberra were soon in trouble.

Swain was yellow-carded in the 78th minute for collapsing a maul, and Stowers followed him off moments later.

The Reds were denied a try by the referee and match official after claiming they had rolled across the line, but they still had the energy and momentum, and fly-half O'Connor seized the moment when the ball reached him to the left of the posts, darting in to snatch glory.

Related items

  • Blues set up clash with Highlanders in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final Blues set up clash with Highlanders in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final

    Hoskins Sotutu powered the Blues through to the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final as they beat the Western Force 31-21 on Saturday, denying the Crusaders a shot at silverware.

    Two tries from Sotutu and one each for Dalton Papalii and Mark Telea helped the Blues carve out a 28-0 interval lead, with Telea denied another try in the second half after the TMO identified an infringement by team-mate Ray Niuia, who was yellow-carded.

    By that stage, a Western Force fightback was under way, tries from Feleti Kaitu'u and Tevita Kuridrani having narrowed the deficit, and Rob Kearney went over in the closing stages to cut the deficit to 10 points.

    However, the Blues, helped by 11 points from the boot of Otere Black, were not to be caught and they will face the Highlanders at Eden Park in the final next Saturday.

    Sotutu had darted in down the left for the opening try, and Telea struck just before the half-hour mark after the Blues withstood a period of Force pressure, with Papalii going over for the third.

    Sotutu barged through again just before the break, as the Blues piled on the points.

    Kaitu'u made the first dent in the Blues' big lead in the 49th minute, going over from close range, and Kuridrani brought the contest to life when he scythed in for a second Force try just seven minutes later. A penalty from Black eased the Blues' nerves, meaning Kearney's late effort was just a consolation.

    That result meant the Crusaders missed out on the final, with the Super Rugby champions each year from 2017 to 2019 seeing trophy hopes scuppered despite beating the Rebels 52-26 in Melbourne earlier in the day.

    Wing Sevu Reece pounced for a hat-trick in the eight-try Crusaders show, with Mitchell Drummond, Will Jordan, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Oliver Jager and Braydon Ennor also going over for the men from Christchurch, who finished third in the series.

    The top three sides finished level on 23 points from five games, with points difference settling the final places as the Blues took top spot with +119, the Highlanders second on +103, and the Crusaders (+97) agonisingly third.

  • Ruthless Hurricanes punish Reds, Smith inspires Highlanders Ruthless Hurricanes punish Reds, Smith inspires Highlanders

    The Hurricanes made it four wins from five in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman as they defeated a luckless Reds 43-14 in Wellington on Friday.

    There were just three points separating the sides approaching the hour mark before the Hurricanes made the most of clinical scoring and good fortune to ease to victory.

    The Reds had nearly 60 per cent of the possession and 637 carries to their opponents' 564 but saw crucial moments go against them as they suffered a fourth defeat in five games.

    Hurricanes centre Ngani Laumape's try opened the scoring but Tate McDermott's converted score levelled the contest after Tyrel Lomax had been sin-binned for a high tackle.

    Jordie Barrett's penalty gave the 14-man Hurricanes a 10-7 lead at half-time before the Reds lost Filipo Daugunu to a contentious yellow card, with Ruben Love touching down soon after.

    Brandon Paenga-Amosa powered over after some intense forward pressure but Dane Cole's try following a soft lineout began the Hurricanes' late surge.

    Laumape was awarded a penalty try after he and Bryce Hegarty chased a kick, the referee showing the latter yellow after ruling he had deliberately hit the ball over the line to prevent a score.

    Replacement Devan Flanders and a second from Coles in the final nine minutes further punished the men from Queensland.

    The Highlanders secured what could be an important 33-12 bonus-point win over the Brumbies that boosted their play-off hopes.

    Aaron Smith scored two tries and assisted two more in a match in which the Highlanders scored 19 unanswered points in the second half.

    Len Ikitau broke the deadlock for the Brumbies but Smith, Ash Dixon and Billy Harmon put the visitors in control in Canberra, despite Lachlan Lonergan also going over.

    Patelesio Tomkinson got the crucial fifth try as the Highlanders held off some late pressure to make it five wins from five ahead of the final day of home-and-away matches.

  • Sinckler called up for Lions tour of South Africa Sinckler called up for Lions tour of South Africa

    Kyle Sinckler has been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa, following Andrew Porter's injury.

    Tighthead prop Porter has been ruled out of the series due to a toe problem, which the Ireland international sustained on Friday while in action for Leinster.

    Sinckler was a big-name omission from the original selection, but Warren Gatland has now called up the England prop.

    Following his omission from the 37-man squad, Sinckler had said it "didn't make sense" to him that he had been left out. He has previously toured with the Lions in 2017, when the team visited New Zealand.

    The Lions squad will convene on June 13, taking on Japan in Edinburgh 13 days later before heading out to South Africa, with the tour culminating in a three-Test series against the Springboks.

    "It's really bad luck for Andrew and we send him our very best wishes for a quick and successful rehab," said Gatland.

    "Andrew is a young man with a big future ahead of him and I'm sure he'll be in contention again in four years' time."

    And the former Wales coach hopes Sinckler proves him wrong for his initial decision to leave him out.

    "As always in rugby, when there's an injury there's an opportunity for someone else," Gatland added.

    "I have been very pleased to see the way Kyle has responded to initially being left out of the touring party.

    "He's showed some excellent form of late and I hope he continues to stick two fingers up to me about leaving him out in the first place."

    The Lions last toured South Africa in 2009, when they lost the Test series 2-1.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.