Rugby: O’Connor leads Reds to home Super Rugby AU final with Brumbies win


(Reuters) - Queensland Reds flyhalf James O’Connor kicked a late penalty to secure a 24-22 victory over ACT Brumbies in front of 22,000 fans in Brisbane on Saturday to maintain his side's 100% record this season and secure a home final in Super Rugby AU.

The Reds had trailed by nine points with 15 minutes remaining but finished the stronger with O’Connor kicking 14 points and having a hand in both of his side’s tries scored by centre Josh Flook and wing Jordan Petaia.

The Brumbies looked in control for much of the game and led for most of it as they scored tries through hooker Folau Fainga'a, fullback Tom Banks and wing Tom Wright.

The Reds head the Super Rugby AU table with 32 points from their seven games and will host the May 8 final, while the Brumbies have already secured a home playoff in second place with 25 points.

They will meet the team that finishes third in a semi-final on May 1, which will likely be either the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force.

Fainga'a gave the visitors an early lead as he peeled away from the back of the maul and crashed over to score, before Banks intercepted a pass from O'Connor and raced clear for his side's second try.

Two O’Connor penalties put the Reds on the scoreboard, but Brumbies scrum-half Nic White landed a penalty from his own half to make the score 15-6 to the visitors at the break.

That deficit was reduced to two points when Flook scored his side’s first try following a pin-point cross-field kick from O'Connor in the build-up, but almost immediately the Brumbies extended their lead again as Wright went over in the corner.

The Reds’ use of the boot as an attacking weapon worked again as O’Connor’s high kick in the Brumbies 22 was plucked from the air by wing Petaia ahead of Banks and he fell over the tryline to cut the gap to four points with 15 minutes to play.

O’Connor then landed two penalties, the second with four minutes to play, as the hosts forced the Brumbies into errors.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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