Five things we learnt from Queensland Reds - ACT Brumbies

Sat, Mar 30, 2024, 10:35 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Tom Wright Try from Round 6 of Super Rugby Pacific 2024

The Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies added another epic to their growing rivalry at Suncorp Stadium.

Yet again, the game came down to the wire as the Brumbies held tough for a 20-19 win over arch-rivals Reds.

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So what did we learn?

1. Living up to the billing

Sometimes you can hype a game too much and it falls flat. This didn’t.

This game had excellent periods of attack, crunching defence, late lead changes and two quality sides who for the majority played free-flowing Rugby.

Wallabies hopefuls such as Tom Wright, Harry Wilson and Jordan Petaia had standout games whilst plenty of young stars took their chance to shine.

The classy sides exploited any little weakness across the 80 minutes. The Reds struck twice when referee Ben O'Keeffe rightfully awarded a penalty try and a yellow card to Rhys van Nek after a collapsed maul. The Brumbies then drew the penalty at scrum time from the inexperienced George Blake to put them back in front, only for Blake to get his own back right at the end.

However, the pressure of the Brumbies was too much, ending up on the right side of the ledger in the ninth game since 2020 to be decided by less than a converted try 

The biggest winner aside from the Brumbies? Joe Schmidt, who just got an early preview of which players can stand up to a Test-level intensity.

2. Clutch

In a game of inches, the boot of Noah Lolesio proved the difference.

In terms of his attacking play, it wasn’t at the same quality as last week, mixing in some strong carries with a couple of turnovers.

But his goal-kicking was superb, perfect from his four attempts, including a long-range effort on the half-time siren. On the other hand, the Reds' kickers went 1/3, including a conversion that hit the posts and a penalty that should've been nailed. That was the difference.

To step up in a tense game like that and keep his calm is a major tick of confidence for Lolesio in the race for the ten jersey

3. Timely reminders

In a contract year, Jordan Petaia gave the biggest reminder of his talent and importance for the Reds.

He was electric on his return to the starting side, the first time since his concussion against the Hurricanes.

The 24-year-old sparked the Reds in the second half after several minutes of defence with a burst on his line, eventually leading to a penalty try after sustained pressure. He had eight tackle busts on his 11 carries for 177 metres.

However, he was met in kind by Tom Wright, who was the shining light for the Brumbies. He was always there close to the line when the visitors needed someone to pierce a gap and close out the game.

4. Come on down Cale

At what stage is it not considered an overreaction to call Charlie Cale a bolter for a gold jersey this year?

He has done almost everything right in 2024, getting the Brumbies out of jail with a lineout steal on his line (his eighth in four games) before throwing the offload to set up the eventual passage that saw Tom Wright score in the corner.

Cale was everywhere, whether shutting down Jordan Petaia after his break or throwing the final ball to Sefo Kautai for his disallowed try.

He’s played just eight Super Rugby games but he looked at home on a field packed with Wallabies. Whilst a call-up by Joe Schmidt may be premature, he has the perfect frame and attributes to be a gun Sevens player in an Australian size that lacks size.

5. Get better 'Noss'

The only sour point from this match was the injury to Lachlan Lonergan, who will be on the sidelines for a long time.

You didn’t have to be a doctor to notice Lonergan’s injury in the 20th minute, with the team doctor putting his ankle back in on the field after a Tate McDermott tackle that resembled a hip drop.

The ‘hip drop’ tackle has dominated discussions in the NFL, which recently outlawed it, with McDermott’s effort looking very similar at first glance.

The focus will be on Lonergan’s recovery, leaving a gaping hole in the Brumbies pack. Billy Pollard needs to step up and play big minutes heading forward, with Connal McInerney on the mend from a long-term injury 

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