The Brumbies have snatched a late win over the Rebels with a balls of steel penalty goal from replacement scrum half Ryan Lonergan from the halfway line to steal a 27-24 bonus point win over a dogged Rebels side.
Just like against the Reds, the Rebels frustrated the opposition with the trusty golden boots of Matt Toomua landing eight penalties on the night and they could have even won the match at the death but for a wayward pass with the line begging.
A red card to Allan Alaalatoa soured the win after a high shot on his opposite Pone Faamausili just before half time and another yellow to Andy Muirhead in the second half saw them grind it out to the end as the clock ticked well past the 80 minutes.
Even with the extra player advantage the Rebels couldn’t close out the game and saw the Brumbies score their third try and claiming the crucial bonus point during the period when Muirhead was in the bin.
The Rebels got off to the perfect start with a penalty off the first phase of the game, leaving Matt To’omua with an easy shot at goal to open the scoring.
Richard Hardwick would have been very nervous given the crackdown on foul play as his tackle was deemed accidental by referee Damon Murphy, ruling the momentum from Connal McInerney contributed to him landing awkwardly on his head.
Noah Lolesio answered To’omua’s penalty goal with his own and in a repeat of the kick-off, the Rebels targeted the Brumbies to earn their second penalty goal with only six minutes gone.
The Rebels breakdown work in the opening minutes was impressive with a number of turnovers to frustrate the Brumbies attacking threats, especially in the wide channels to keep the Brumbies on the back foot with the aid of a favourable penalty count.
With the penalty count racking up, the Brumbies copped the warning and were probably lucky not to go down a man, however they would watch To’omua land his third penalty in the opening 20 minutes.
The Brumbies finally got their hands on the ball in the Rebels 22 off a penalty, and from the lineout the Brumbies went for the maul but with a penalty advantage, Lolesio grubbered ahead for Len Ikitau to swoop in and score. Lolesio converted to make it 10-9.
That gave the Brumbies the lift they needed and would spend the next period down the Rebels end but execution at the lineout from Lachlan Lonergan, who was on early for the injured McInerney, and some determined defence got the Rebels off the hook. The defence was again on song after keeping Scott Sio out and would then cause an error from the Brumbies after an extended period on their own line.
The Brumbies lineout faltered again in the Rebels 22 with the impressive Trevor Hosea disrupting and an intercept from Hodge off a Lolesio pass had the Rebels in good field position. As they played in the Brumbies half just before half time, Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa received a red card for a high shot on a charging Pone Faamausili and from the penalty, To’omua had his fourth penalty goal of the half to edge the Rebels back in front at 12-10.
Despite being down a player, the Brumbies had the better start to the second half and Lolesio had a shot at penalty goal to wind down time on the red card but it was wide.
But only minutes later they went back in front after the rolling maul had the Rebels in trouble to leave Damon Murphy awarding a penalty try and James Hanson copped the double-edged sword with the follow up yellow card for bringing down the maul.
To’omua’s shiny golden boots had his fifth penalty goal of the night with nice kick from 40m out into the wind to reduce the margin to 2. And he would add his sixth of the night just before the 60-minute mark to again change the lead with a whole host of subs hitting the field. Marika Koroibete had been having a good night out wide and beating first up tacklers with ease at times and he had the Rebels in good position after a strong run off the restart.
The frustration continued for the Brumbies after they tried to sneak the drop out after a held up call but that didn’t go the required distance and that was followed by Andy Muirhead getting binned after repeated infringements that saw To’omau’s seventh penalty of the night.
The Brumbies finally had a stroke of luck go their way as a high ball from Banks hit Lachie Anderson and went into touch for a lineout on the 71st minute mark. Six phases later, Ryan Lonergan hit Tom Banks with a Gregan/Fineganesque inside ball and he regained his feet to score the bonus point try for the Brumbies. Ryan Lonergan converted to make it 24-21 with less than 10 minutes to go.
And like Groundhog Day, To’omua landed his eighth penalty to level the scores at 24-24 with all signs pointing to the first edition of golden try in 2021.
But there would be late, late drama as the Brumbies worked it out of their own end aided by back-to-back penalties to end up on halfway. With the decision of kicking for touch or to goal from long range, Ryan Lonergan stepped up and ripped the hearts out from Rebels supporters as his kick landed over the crossbar by a bees appendage and steal the win.
The Game Changer
The Rebels looked like they might hold on for golden try but the back-to-back penalties at the end of regular time saw the Brumbies kick for goal and Lonergan did the business.
The G&GR MOTM
Ryan Lonergan put in a decent shout by setting up the Tom Banks try with a nice flick pass and then the penalty to win it. For the Rebels, Marika Koroibete was elusive all night for Brumbies defenders but in a blanket finish Tom Banks edges it.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Ikitau, penalty try, Banks
Conversions: Lolesio, R Lonergan
Penalties: Lolesio, R Lonergan
Penalties: To’omua 8
40 mins – Alaalatoa (Brumbies) – Red
48 mins – Hanson (Rebels) – Yellow
68 mins – Muirhead (Brumbies) – Yellow