Reds' season back on track
Queensland hold off late fightback from Brumbies
Last Updated: 06/04/12 3:55pm
Defending Super 15 champions Queensland Reds got their season back on track with a 20-13 victory over ACT Brumbies.
After losing three consecutive matches the Reds needed to beat the Brumbies to stay in contention for the semi-finals.
They looked well in control as they led 17-0 after 50 minutes, but visibly tired as the Brumbies stormed back with 13 unanswered points.
Number eight Scott Higginbotham was outstanding for the Reds, scoring two tries in the first half, while debutant fly-half Sam Lane kicked two conversions and two penalty goals to recover from a nervous start.
The Reds looked a shadow of the side that beat the Crusaders in last year's Super 15 final as they shelved their normally expansive attacking game to rely on tactical kicking from Lane and scrumhalf Will Genia.
It worked well in the first half but the Brumbies were able to counter in the second against the tiring Queensland defence, who missed 27 tackles, most of those in the second period.
The Reds dominated possession early but their stuttering attack was unable to put any pressure on the Brumbies' defence. Lane had two early penalty chances but missed them both, the second from right in front only 25 metres out.
But when they finally got a chance in the 23rd minute they took it in style. Brumbies full-back Jesse Mogg lost the ball in a tackle and Reds winger Rod Davies snapped it up and passed to centre Ben Tapuai, who slipped an inside ball for Higginbotham to crash over in the corner.
Lane converted from the sideline, then set up Higginbotham's second try only minutes later, chipping ahead for Davies, who fed the big number eight for a try under the posts and a 14-0 lead.
They went further ahead 10 minutes after the restart when ACT prop Dan Palmer was penalised for punching Queensland's Ben Daley and Lane calmly slotted from 30 metres out.
The Brumbies finally got on the board with two Christian Lealiifano penalties, the second of which saw Reds flanker Liam Gill yellow carded for a professional foul.
The visitors capitalised on the extra man when Joseph Tomane shrugged off three Queensland defenders to stroll over in the corner. Lealiifano reduced the arrears to 17-13 with 10 minutes left.
But a last-minute penalty to Lane put the game beyond doubt, to the delight of almost 31,500 Queensland fans.