It’s a tight first 40 to say in the 2020 Super Rugby AU Grand Final.
But let’s say the ACT Brumbies have the upper hand by two points (15-13) at the break where they’re right in the attack and defense.
That’s where the work allowed Noah Lolesio to have the early penalty goal and back-to-back touchdowns.
It’s a positive way to fire off from the home side with Lolesio now back following a two-month absence from his hamstring injury during the game I attended in-person ago in Round 3 when the ACT Brumbies played away v the NSW Waratahs at ANZ Stadium in Canberra.
At times, for the Queensland Reds, a lack of conversions with the support build-up play caused gaps in defensive problems under pressure earlier on, such as lost turnovers, penalties, poor throw-ins & scrummaging.
But in the second half of the first 40, the Reds did remain patient to get the breakthrough they need thanks to the forwards and backline working together where the pacey Jordan Petaia reduced the workload for Harry Wilson to complete the touchdown.
They would like to level or take over the scoreboard lead late when the Reds won the penalty that caused disciplinary issues from the ACT Brumbies.
However, James O’Connor takes the safe route with the penalty kick between the sticks to eat the Brumbies lead by two points. Now it will be up to the Reds if they can cut down the disciplinary slack and communicate better if this Queensland-based team wants to win the trophy.
In the end, despite some late progress from the forwards with a great eye on defense that helped gain a penalty goal plus the Angus Blyth touchdown.
Unfortunately, the lack of finishing with gaps all over the pitch alongside the poor throw-ins plus the ill-discipline such as the high tackle cost the Reds denial to seal an unsuccessful comeback.
The Reds played very well with a fantastic youthful side injected with plenty of physical power and pace that helped them stay in the Top 3 throughout the round-robin play and remained strong in the Qualifying Final. It gave a second chance in the Grand Final.
It’s not their season to leave GIO Stadium in Canberra without the trophy as they will come back in 2021 as a much better side and hopefully go one better.
So it’s the Brumbies that ended up victorious here that sealed 1st place not just in the round-robin play but also the entire season with the championship title.
They secured extra points earlier in the second half with the Tom Banks try not long after the break, then the Brumbies went creative via the Noah Lolesio drop goal before the backline helped their forwards’ pack tighten the defense for the rest of the night.
It helped them read the Reds’ mistakes with the build-up play under pressure, such as the poor line-outs & spotting their lack of support with a lack of calling to pass that the Brumbies successfully blocked past their zone stuff up the attack.
And it allowed the Brumbies to safeguard the scoreboard lead until the final siren when Bayley Kuenzle kicked the ball into touch to help win the trophy by five points, 28-23.
What a season to close the thrilling chapter of the 2020 Super Rugby AU at GIO Stadium in Canberra over ten weeks of round-robin play plus two games in two weeks of finals action.
The Brumbies and Reds once again unstoppable but the one winner came out tonight is the home side.
Melbourne Rebels also played well that earned a great early start & held on strong until the very end by the Qualifying Final despite the late scare from the Western Force in Round 10.
NSW Waratahs also have earned some wins but largely have lost games, and the Western Force, who did return to compete within the Rugby Australia competition.
But despite a great line-up of experienced stars, it did not match the physicality and pace that mainly needed to progress.
Though, the Force does deserve to stay in this competition whichever Rugby Australia successfully chooses its format for 2021, whether it will be the Trans-Tasman competition or their eight-team system featuring some of the Asian and Pacific Teams.
To sign off, it’s great to write some Super Rugby content for 2020. I will look forward to covering Rugby again in a few weeks when it comes to International Rugby, starting with the Wallabies’ games as the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.
For now, I will come back again tomorrow morning my time to provide you content for the NASCAR Cup Series with the final Round of 16 race from Bristol Motor Speedway.