Wellington – The ACT Brumbies beat the Queensland Reds to go top of the Super 15 ladder at the weekend, avenging two disappointing defeats to their country rivals last year, in an Australia-only opening round.
The Melbourne Rebels slotted into second place on points difference after defeating the Western Force 30-23 in the only other match while the NSW Waratahs and the New Zealand and South Africa conferences begin next week.
In a match that rarely reached any great heights, Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg scored two tries in the 24-6 defeat of the Reds, the 2011 champions and only Australian side to make the play-offs last year.
It was sweet revenge for the Canberra team after Queenslanders dominated the derby last season, costing the Brumbies a place in the final six when both sides finished the round robin on 58 points.
“They beat us twice last year and you try not to carry things over between seasons, but that really hurt us and we weren't happy,” Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said.
The winning margin could have been even greater but Brumbies kicker Christian Lealiifano had an off night, missing four penalty attempts and failing to convert Mogg's first try.
With the ball going in all directions except between the uprights, Mogg and Nic White took over the kicking duties in the second half and landed two penalties a piece.
Queensland's normally reliable boot Mike Harris also had an off-night, missing two of three shots at goal in the opening five minutes.
The Reds started to look dangerous in the closing stages when trailling 6-14 but a make or break attempt at a late try to earn a bonus point backfired when Mogg intercepted a Quade Cooper pass to score his second try.
Mogg's first try came in the opening half when the Brumbies put through a grubber kick and he outsprinted Wallaby wing Digby Ioane in a race for the line.
The result left the Queenslanders at the bottom of the conference table behind the Western Force who picked up a bonus point from finishing within seven points of the Rebels.
The Force started the stronger of the two teams in Friday night's clash in Melbourne and stunned the Rebels as they raced to an 11-0 midway through the first half, but let themselves down with a lack of discipline.
Although they were were still in touch at 20-16 in the second half, referee Angus Gardner yellow-carded flanker Chris Alcock and then halfback Alby Mathewson allowing the Rebels to take advantage.
The first and 17th rounds of the Super 15 championship this year will be restricted to the Australian teams who will sit out weeks 18 and 19 while they focus on the British and Irish Lions tour. – Sapa-AFP