It didn’t yield a winner, but rugby’s new “Super Time” tiebreaker initiative was given the thumps up after the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels played out an historic 18-18 draw in Sydney.
James O’Connor’s after-the-siren conversion of Alex Mafi’s last-minute try for the Reds sent the Super Rugby AU contest into a rugby league-style golden period on Friday night.
Fittingly, Sydney’s Brookvale Oval, Manly’s NRL base, was the setting after Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus forced Melbourne’s “home” match to be played interstate.
But while sections of the crowd booed the teams off the field after neither was able to nail victory, the Reds and Rebels hailed the initiative.
“I mean, no one really wants a draw. It probably would have been good to keep going until there was a winner,” said Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty after his side squandered a 10-point advantage with just five minutes remaining in regulation time.
“We’re definitely disappointed. We felt we dominated large parts of that game and had a couple of disallowed tries early and just didn’t take the opportunities to put them away.”
Under-fire Rebels coach Dave Wessels was also deflated.
“We should have had the game in the bag,” he said.
“To have a lead like that and blow it in the last few minutes – credit to the Reds for fighting – but we didn’t control the ball at that point and that’s disappointing.”
Queensland coach Brad Thorn wasn’t sure what to make of the stalemate.
“Bit of a weird one really. Sort of half happy, half not happy,” Thorn said.
“It’s a new thing after they went for the golden-point scenario and they slugged it out for 90 minutes both teams, credit to both teams.
“We didn’t get the result in the end but it’s two points we get; we’ll take it.”
Reds fullback Bryce Hegarty narrowly missed a monster penalty goal effort from halfway on the stroke of Super Time halftime.
Ultimately, though, the Reds finished moral winners after sharing the spoils despite being a man short for 20 minutes following the sin-binning of Hamish Stewart and Hunter Paisami.
They then looked dead and buried after Billy Meakes intercepted an errant pass from O’Connor and raced 35 metres to put the Rebels up 18-8 in the 67th minute.
But an O’Connor penalty in the 75th minute and then his coolly slotted last-gasp conversion forced the extra time.
“The thing I’m proud about since three years ago is the fight within the team,” Thorn said.
“We don’t go away.”