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The Reds finished their round-robin campaign on a high by claiming a 26-7 win over the Brumbies in Brisbane.
The game itself was a dead rubber in terms of the log, with the Brumbies having already secured their place in the final by finishing first, while the Reds already had second place in the bag.
The Reds will host the Melbourne Rebels next weekend in the second- vs third-place playoff, with the winner going through to face the Brumbies – who will have next weekend off – in the final.
The Reds have now won their last four Super Rugby home matches on the bounce against the Brumbies, more than they won in their 12 such meetings prior and, if they can progress to the final, will have something of a psychological advantage over their opponents.
Tries from Liam Wright and Chris Feauai-Sautia – to go with two penalties from James O’Conner – put the Reds in a strong position at 18-0.
However, the Brumbies were able to strike just before the break when Tom Wright did excellently to put eighthman Pete Samu in for a converted try.
In a tightly-fought second half both sides created plenty of opportunities, without really being able to finish them off. A third penalty from O’Connor put the Reds into a more comfortable position going into the closing stages of the match, before Tate McDermott underlined his status as one of Australia’s brightest young players with another fine solo try to seal the result.
Reds – Tries: Liam Wright, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Tate McDermott. Conversion: James O’Connor. Penalties: O’Connor (3).
Brumbies – Tries: Pete Samu. Conversions: Bayley Kuenzle.
Reds – 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (c), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Harry Hoopert.
Subs: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Hunter Paisami.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (c), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Lachie McCaffrey, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Len Ikitau, 23 Solomone Kata.
Meanwhile a try to Cabous Eloff off what turned out to be the last move of the game gave the Melbourne Rebels a 34-30 Domestic AU win in Newcastle that assured them of a place in a finals series fore the first time in their history.
The Rebels needed to win by four points to advance to a semifinal next week against the Reds in Brisbane. Had they fallen short, the Waratahs, who would have been watching the game on television in Sydney, would have gone through to the playoff game. And it did look like they were getting their wish when the Force went into a 30-20 lead after an hour, leaving the Rebels requiring 14 unanswered points if they wanted to go through.
Rebels 34 - Tries: Tom Pincus, Reece Hodge, Grant Haylett-Petty and Cabous Eloff; Conversions: Matt To’omua 4; Penalties: Matt To’omua 2.
Western Force 30 - Tries: Andrew Ready 2, Henry Taefu and Brynard; Conversions: Iain Prior 2; Penalties: Iain Prior 2.