The Brumbies were crowned Super Rugby AU champions as young playmaker Noah Lolesio sparkled in their 28-23 win over the Reds.
It ended a 16-year wait for a title for the Brumbies, who were good value for Saturday’s win against opponents who too often let their discipline go awry.
Among many fine performances, it was 20-year-old fly-half Lolesio who caught the eye at the GIO Stadium, as he bent the contest to his will on a first outing since suffering a torn hamstring two months ago.
The man of the match got the first chunk of his 13-point haul as he and James O’Connor exchanged early penalties before Folau Fainga’a was the beneficiary of a furious 17th-minute drive to put the Brumbies in front.
Andy Muirhead finished smartly for their second score after Lolesio drew four defenders but an even better try followed for the Reds – Jordan Petaia embarking upon a dazzling run through the midfield before a deft backhanded pass allowed number eight Harry Wilson to touch down.
Proud to be Australian CHAMPIONS, with a Brumby on our chest! pic.twitter.com/kjlzW69jVN
— Plus500 Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) September 19, 2020
O’Connor’s penalty to close the first half meant the deficit was trimmed to 15-13 at the interval but the Reds’ haphazard start to the second period proved decisive.
Tom Banks darted through the defensive line as the Brumbies switched play from right to left for their third try, with Lolesio adding the extras before confidently thumping home a drop goal.
Filipo Daugunu was then sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle and, although Angus Blyth scrambled to touch down a loose ball in the 64th minute, the Brumbies were able to hold on.
It might have been a different story had O’Connor, who also kicked 13 points, not lacked his usual poise when he dropped a straightforward pass in front of the posts four minutes from time.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta