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The Roar


Super Rugby AU final: It all comes down to this

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16th September, 2020
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So here we go then. It’s taken 11 weeks to get here, and the final has served up what plenty of people expected would be the best two teams in Australia. First versus second.

The table and the small matter of the Final being in Canberra puts the Brumbies ahead of the Reds, but current form lines and subjective judgements say otherwise. We’ll find out either way after eighty minutes and change on Saturday night.

Last week: everyone else 1. Geoff 0.

Overall: Harry and The Crowd 30, Brett 29, Digger and Dan 28, Geoff and Nobes 25.

It worked really well last week, so we’ve again given the guys extra things to consider alongside who they are tipping to win the final on Saturday night.

As per last week, the guys will outline the winning margin, the first scoring play of the match, and the player responsible.

Let’s see what they’ve come up with.


Reds by 5
We are now in knockout tipping. A different world. No sentiment. A loss is just a loss.


Thus, I will become surgical to take the cake. No gut feel. Pure rigorous science.

It’s in the wee cold capital. The comfy roundabouts, the garden city, the big laws, the pony authority, the governing mauls, and such; this gives the Brumbies a 5-0 edge before the whistle blows.

However, James O’Connor is a gunslinger with no remorse, hiding behind a new smile. He’s a killer and don’t be fooled. He can set his Fijian Flyer free with passes out of nowhere. 7-5 Reds.

The thing is, the home side won’t panic. They work. They make sausage out of lemons. 12-7 Brumbies.

Liam Wright will claw the visitors back. 12-12. JOC will shank the conversion.

Extra time will settle it. At the death, JOC will be redeemed; rolling back the clock and the years with a gorgeous dummy, break, and finish in the corner. The TMO will take five minutes to decide, peering at every angle of JOC’s bum fuzz. The conversion attempt will be missed badly by the Tongan Thor.

First scoring play: Brumbies try to Folau Fainga’a

Sure thing: 6000 fans will be in for a real treat.

James O'Connor

(Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP via Getty Images)


Brumbies by 7

So I guess we find out whether overcoming the travel factor really is as simple as the Reds are trying to tell us it is. Just don’t make a big deal of it, they say. Just get on the bus. And then the plane. And then another bus. And just play a game. And then do it all again.

But don’t make a big deal of it.

All that aside, it really is going to be a cracking game and I can’t wait until kick-off. And I’ll tick a bit of a personal box this game too: I’ve been lucky enough to be part of commentary teams for Test matches, NRC finals games, and I’ve called club rugby grand finals myself, but the closest I’ve come in Super Rugby is the 2017 and 2019 qualifying finals. So that’ll be something.

Who wins this? No-one will be surprised that I’ve picked the Brumbies, and I think this is going to be an occasion where experience comes through. 15 of their side played in the losing semi to the Jaguares last season. Four of them were in a Brumbies jersey in the 2015 semi loss to the Hurricanes. Three of them played in the 2013 final against the Chiefs. James Slipper and Tevita Kuridrani have played a Rugby World Cup final.

Plenty of young guns on both sides played all the way through to the Junior World Championships Final last year, but this is another level altogether.


It’ll be physical, it’ll be forwards-led, and there will be a lot of kicking. The Reds will try and turn it into a breakdown battle, but the Brumbies will try and play off set piece. Momentum will swing, multiple times. And in both halves.

The Brumbies have gone to great lengths to develop different ways to score from their maul, and they’re actually pretty good at it, but it won’t matter this weekend. If Folau Fainga’a scoring five tries from lineout drives is what will put their name on the trophy at fulltime, then so be it.

First scoring play: Brumbies try to Folau Fainga’a

Sure thing: After that explanation, it will almost certainly become the most openly played, kick-less, ball-in-hand extravaganza ever seen in a knockout game. It’ll be like 2004 all over again. 49-42, or something like that. A dozen tries plus.

Folau Fainga'a of the Brumbies scores a try

(Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)


Reds by 8
The big day has arrived in the home of the rugby championship, Ponies and Angry Koalas to decide who becomes the land of Oz’s premier side.

Every part of me suggests the Brumbies should take this. They appeal as the more composed side, and that coupled with home-ground advantage in the COVID world spells another title to the capital. But bugger it, I’ll take the Reds in a bit of a boilover, I just like their brashness. Although that could also quite probably lead to their demise.


Taniela Tupou to score the first points with a try from a bullocking run close to the line, set up from a break by James O’Connor from the Reds 22, setting Queensland away for a memorable finale victory by eight points, 28-20 final score.

First scoring play: Reds try to Taniela Tupou

Sure thing: There will be a try scored from a rolling maul.

Taniela Tupou makes a break

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)


Brumbies by 7
What a great idea to have a final! Super Rugby AU has had its iffy moments, but the highs far outweigh the lows, and I’m expecting another peak in the form of a highly competitive and enthralling final.

The Reds carry all of the momentum and are demonstrably confident off the back of what has grown into a highly efficient defence. That includes nullifying the Brumbies’ hitherto impenetrable lineout maul drive at their last meeting two weeks ago.

For their part, the Brumbies have been frontrunners throughout the competition, without ever being totally convincing. Having last weekend off to regroup is a blessing, and the return of Noah Lolesio at 10 is another. In a competition that has overwhelmingly been dominated by home wins, it’s that travel factor that will tip things the Brumbies’ way.


First scoring play: Brumbies try to Aussie Pete Samu.

Sure thing: It feels like we’re due a card controversy. And it will involve one of Davie Rennie’s 44 man Wallabies’ squad.


(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)


Brumbies by 9
In a bizarre Super Rugby season, as bizarre as trading in cryptocurrencies, we finally reach the final.

The Brumbies started the tournament well but they dropped off after the break, perhaps because their opponents found out how to stop their pet plays. This is not a team with many variations to their gameplan – they’re without a plan B.

Having said this, we must also recognise that when it comes to finals, they have an advantage over the young Reds team for having played more times in these circumstances. That experience counts for a lot in sudden-death rugby.

I expect a close game riddled with nervous infractions which the Brumbies will win.

First scoring play: Reds penalty goal to James O’Connor

Sure thing: The Reds will be handed cards that will cost them the game.

Tom Wright celebrates scoring a try

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)


Brumbies by 4
No complaints here about the two remaining contenders; the Brumbies and Reds have been the form teams throughout Super Rugby AU and are deserved finalists.

Home-ground advantage has been critical this season, although the Reds were better on their trip to Canberra than the Brumbies were in the return fixture a couple of weeks ago.

Form favours the visitors with Queensland’s last defeat coming more than a month ago and Dan McKellar’s men dropping two of their last four, and yet I’ll go with the Ponies. They’re the more experienced of the two sides, will be well-rested and don’t have to worry about travelling on matchday.

Brumbies by four, with a Folau Fainga’a try from the back of the lineout to open the scoring.

First scoring play: Brumbies try to Folau Fainga’a

Sure thing: Tevita Kuridrani to have a blinder after being overlooked for Wallabies selection.

Harry Brett Digger Geoff Nobes Dan The Crowd
Margin 5 7 8 7 9 4
First score Brumbies try Brumbies try Reds try Brumbies try Reds penalty goal Brumbies try
First scorer Folau Fainga’a Folau Fainga’a Taniela Tupou Pete Samu James O’Connor Folau Fainga’a
Overall 30 29 28 26 26 28 30
Last week 1 1 1 0 1 1 1