Reds knock off Brumbies in Canberra opener
The Queensland Reds have kicked off their 2014 Super Rugby campaign in sensational fashion, holding off the fast-finishing Brumbies 27-17 in Canberra.
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg had a night to forget, missing a penalty to draw the scores level in the 73rd minute, then dropping the ball cold on his line at the death to gift reserve Reds outside back Chris Feauai-Sautia the match-sealing try.
Wallabies No.10 Quade Cooper was brilliant for the visitors, throwing pinpoint long passes for the Reds' first two tries as well as kicking 12 points in front of a crowd of 13,670 at Canberra Stadium,.
Former Waratahs winger Lachlan Turner also had a brilliant night in his new colours, scoring the opening try and making three desperate tackles in the Reds' last line of defence in the first half, which included holding up Mogg over the line in the 30th minute.
Meanwhile Brumbies star flanker David Pocock was solid in his first professional match since injuring his knee 11 months ago, forcing the odd turnover.
The Reds were in control until a yellow card to prop Greg Holmes in the 53rd minute, the Brumbies making the most of the numerical advantage through a try to fullback Jesse Mogg to narrow the gap to 20-17.
Despite the departure of their World Cup-winning coach Jake White late last year, the Brumbies didn't stray far from the territorial based game plan that took them to last year's grand final.
However a steady breeze saw several of their kicks drift out into touch on the full, including two first-half restarts.
The Brumbies struggled to find an answer for the Reds' dominant defence, often peddling backwards before kicking away possession.
The Brumbies' themselves rushed up in defence out wide with a clear plan to disrupt the attacking flair of Cooper, and it worked early.
However the Wallabies No 10 managed to find an answer by delaying his distribution with a double pump before throwing a long cut-out pass, putting Turner over in the corner in the 18th minute for his first Super Rugby try since late 2010.
Reds' livewire fullback Aidan Toua then quickly lived up to his pre-season hype, cracking the Brumbies defence following another long cut-out pass from Cooper, before sprinting 55 metres and selling Mogg a dummy to help put the Queenslanders up 14-6.
Both sides traded penalties to head into the break 17-9, then again after the break, before Mogg sliced the Reds open and scored - but the Brumbies' fullback's night would go all downhill from there.
Brumbies outside centre Andrew Smith went off in the second half with a concussion.
Reds coach Richard Graham said his side held their composure late in the game when the Brumbies were on the front foot to notch up just their third Super Rugby win in Canberra.
"Even when we were down to 14 men on our goal-line, we were really clear in the way we wanted to execute things," he said.
Graham also praised the performance of Turner.
"His try-saving tackle was a really important part of the game, momentum could have swung on that," he said.
Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher defended captain Ben Mowen's decision to turn down several penalty shots in favour of pushing for a try.
"We had to try and break them open and we were desperately close to doing that," he said.
"But there's not too much we need to change."
Fisher said while Mogg wouldn't be feeling good about the error that led to the Reds' last try, he would be surprised if he saw something like that again.
"He's an outstanding footballer. Everyone makes errors and that's a clanger, disappointing for him but he'll move on and we'll move on," Fisher said.
Queensland Reds 27 (Chris Feauai-Sautia, Aidan Toua, Lachie Turner tries Quade Cooper 3 cons 2 pens) ACT Brumbies 17 (Jesse Mogg try Mogg 3, Nic White pens) at GIO Stadium. Referee: James Leckie. Crowd: 13,670