The Reds and Brumbies played to an entertaining but dramatic 19-all draw in their Vodacom Super Rugby outing in Brisbane, ensuring neither side grabbed a hold on the Australian conference.
The Brumbies were lucky to hold out in the end after a second-half onslaught by the Reds, who, it must be said, overdid their maul somewhat and turned down no less than eight kickable penalties in search of a try to level the scores.
While they did eventually break through Liam Gill, they ran down the clock for 10 minutes in search of the try, and never had much time to look for the winner afterwards.
The Brumbies, despite conceding two yellow cards during the game and playing extremely negatively on their own goalline, managed to hold out to keep their two-point lead at the top of both the Australian and overall Super Rugby conferences, still two points ahead of the Reds.
The Reds will take solace out of the fact they outscored Jake White’s side three tries to one, but there will be questions asked about how much leeway referee Glen Jackson gave the visitors, and also how the Reds continued to turn down the kickable points which could ultimately have won them the game.
Still, it was an enthralling encounter and both sides lived up to their reputations as front-runners in the Australian conference, with the Brumbies setting the early pace through midfielder Christian Lealiifano’s opening two penalties for a 6-0 lead.
The Reds struck back almost immediately from a rolling maul as they thundered up to the Brumbies' goalline and Jake Schatz emerged as the maul went over to put the home side back into the lead.
The TMO denied them a second try when Rod Davies lost the ball as he went over the line in an excellently crafted move. As if they were buoyed by that escape, the Brumbies straightened their line, and put together several decent phases, coming close to the Reds' line in a move started with an excellent break by Jesse Mogg. Mogg injected himself into the final move again to create the overlap and Lealiifano went over without a hand being laid on him as the Reds had been stretched too far.
The Brumbies' points machine was given his marching orders after several infringements on their line, with Lealiifano being pinned on a team warning for a 10 minute visit to the bin.
The Reds couldn’t take advantage of their numerical advantage, and went into the break behind.
But Ewen McKenzie’s charges emerged in the second half as a different side, willing to take chances and looking more and more confident as the game wore on.
Anthony Fainga’a was denied as he went over in the corner, but it wasn’t long before the Reds got themselves firmly back into the game through the great footwork of Rod Davies, after a perfect long floated pass by Quade Cooper put the winger into space and Davies simply did the rest.
Cooper couldn’t land the conversion to put the Reds in front, and as good as the Reds were looking, they were making mistakes as well. The Brumbies pounced on two of this with their clinical accuracy to let Lealiifano kick them into a seven point lead.
But the Reds continued to attack, and shot themselves in the foot by turning down kickable penalties to go for the try. While they eventually achieved their goal, they had to settle for a draw when a win was very much within their grasp.
Reds – Tries: Jake Schatz, Rod Davies, Liam Gill. Conversions: Quade Cooper (2).
Brumbies – Try: Christian Lealiifano. Conversion: Lealiifano. Penalties: Lealiifano (2).