BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Flyhalf James O’Connor booted 10 points as the Queensland Reds beat the Melbourne Rebels 25-13 on Saturday to advance to next weekend's Super Rugby Australia final against the ACT Brumbies.
Jordan Petaia, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Filipo Daugunu scored tries to advance the Reds to their first title match since winning the Super 14 competition in 2011.
“It’s awesome, we’ve given ourselves a chance which was all wanted from tonight, to keep fighting,” said Reds skipper Liam Wright, whose side pulled away in the second-half after being tied with the Rebels 10-10 at halftime.
After the video referee denied the Rebels the first try of the match, Petaia opened the scoring for Queensland with an intercept try in the eighth minute. The outside center pounced on a loose Rebels pass before racing 60 meters to score under the posts. O’Connor kicked the conversion to give his side a 7-0 lead.
A Matt Toomua penalty goal cut the Reds’ lead to four points in the 15th minute, but O’Connor responded with a penalty of his own to put the Queensland advantage out to 10-3 in the 24th minute.
The Rebels had their first try on the stroke of halftime, Marika Koroibete finding the line to level the scores.
Salakaia-Loto put Queensland back into the lead early in the second half, the lock scoring close to the left corner post off the back of a Hunter Paisami break. Paisami pierced the defense close to the halfway line, before linking with Daugunu who found Salakaia-Loto on his inside to score.
O’Connor kicked the sideline conversion to give Queensland a 17-10 advantage in the 45th minute of play.
Reece Hodge kicked the Rebels to within four points of the Reds with a 45-meter penalty goal, but O’Connor again responded with his own penalty to make the score 20-13 with 23 minutes to play.
Daugunu sealed the win with his side’s third try in the 75th minute. The winger scored courtesy of a Taniela Tupou try assist, with the prop charging his way through the Melbourne defense after a Bryce Hegarty inside ball.
The final is next Saturday in Canberra, home of the Brumbies.
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