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Brumbies hang on against Reds in thriller

The Brumbies are still undefeated this Super Rugby Pacific season but Friday night’s 16-12 victory over the Queensland Reds certainly did not come easy.

Having been brutalised in a tough first half in which they had just 35 per cent possession, the Brumbies dug deep to prevail, in the process improving to 5-0 for the season.

In a pulsating conclusion, the Reds seemed through to score when captain Fraser McReight kicked the ball forward but he could not gather it when it hit the post and bounced back for the Brumbies to ground it in goal in the 79th minute.

Reds fans perhaps felt hard done by, with McReight appearing to have been held early in his kick chase.

After triumphing in an intense encounter in which his side was often on the back foot, Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said taking chances had been vital.

“We knew we had to be clinical, probably more than ever,” he said.

“There was a lot of pressure in this game and I think it came down to a team that had set-piece dominance, and then also defence as well.

“There’s a lot of niggle when we play each other, it’s just the pride that both teams have for their state.

“Obviously boys are also contesting for Wallabies spots, but (I’m) just pleased with that effort.”

The Brumbies were lucky to lead at the half despite spending most of the first period on the back foot, with a sensational Tom Wright try on 29 minutes putting them in front.

He struck against the run of play, with the winger benefiting from a delightful kick from Irae Simone sitting up for him to ground for a 10-7 advantage on a rare trip into deep Reds territory.

Reds’ No.10 James O’Connor had given his side the lead on 25 minutes after dancing around Brumbies to score under the posts.

Having then trailed 13-7, Queensland scored shortly before the hour through Josh Nasser, the Reds making the most of a man advantage after Darcy Swain was sent to the sin bin for repetitive fouls deep in defence.

They could have led but O’Connor pushed the conversion narrowly wide, before the Brumbies replied by adding three points via a Ryan Lonergan penalty.

A shattered McReight couldn’t hide his frustration with the result.

“Obviously you never want to lose and we’ve got such a great rivalry with the Brums so it’s quite a bitter feeling right now,” he said.

“But there’s a lot to learn … there’s key learnings from every sort of rugby match whether you win or lose.

“We knew it was gonna be a battle for the whole 80 minutes, so did the Brums I think it was a great game of rugby tonight.”

Referee Damon Murphy did a good job keeping a fiery contest that threatened to boil over under control, an early penalty reversal that cost the Reds a chance to search for points deep in opposition territory reminding players to maintain their cool.

The competition’s two best Australian sides don’t have to wait long to do it again, scheduled to face each other in just two weeks.

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