The Reds became Super Rugby champions of 2011 after defeating the travelling Crusaders 18-13 in a Brisbane humdinger on Saturday.
The Reds became 2011 Super Rugby champions on Saturday after defeating the travelling Crusaders 18-13 in what was a humdinger of a final in Brisbane.
It was a true case of finals footy at Suncorp as the showpiece remained scoreless until after the half-hour. From then on, things sparked to life.
Queensland's franchise claimed the silverware thanks to a moment of magic from Will Genia, who ran 65 metres to a 68th-minute try, which put the Reds 18-13 up. And despite the best efforts from the Crusaders, the hosts held on to win.
The Crusaders once again demonstrated few side-effects of their 100,000km-plus travelling throughout the year and were 6-10 to the good on the 50-minute mark after a converted try from Dan Carter, which he later followed up with a penalty.
Todd Blackadder's side had to weather an early home barrage but once they had, mistakes then saw them fail to make their chances count, as hooker Corey Flynn threw three crooked line-outs while fly-half Carter spilled more balls than he took. His class soon came to the fore though following a successful Quade Cooper penalty goal.
It was then the turn of Carter to show his guile, spotting a flat defence and grubbering through for himself before running in to cap a virtuoso try. He added the extra two points.
Cue the moment that may haunt the Crusaders on their journey across the Tasman. Sitting pretty at 6-10 up, Brad Thorn came painfully close to powering over but for fine defence keeping the ball off the ground. Had it been grounded, the trophy could have been theirs.
Carter eased some of the Crusaders' hurt with a penalty moments later, however that was before the Reds produced their best move of the contest to retake the lead. Cooper fed wing Digby Ioane, who did well to beat Sonny Bill Williams and touch down, putting the Reds back in front. It didn't last long though as soon after, Carter stepped up to level matters.
Twelve minutes remained in Brisbane until the match-winning moment from Genia arrived.
The scrum-half was seemingly lost at 65 metres from the opposition line but then set off on a mazy run, selling defenders with a couple of dummies before holding off the challenge of Sean Maitland. Cooper missed the conversion to leave the door open for the Crusaders, who had five points to find with eleven minutes to go. The grandstand finish was created.
Richie McCaw and company gave it their all in the closing stages but it proved not to be enough as the Reds held on to seal victory, which saw Ioane's best dance moves follow.
Man-of-the-match: Hats off to Will Genia and Digby Ioane for their individual efforts but for his hard work throughout, Scott Higginbotham caught our eye. The flank showed good footballing skills on two occasions, was tireless around the field and was a line-out option.
Moment-of-the-match: Minute 68, Will Genia, try! If you have the game recorded, that is all you need to know. A true moment of brilliance from the assured Wallaby number nine.
Villain-of-the-match: It was a Super Rugby game played in good spirits between the best two franchises in 2011. Very little to speak of in terms of dirty play in an entertaining final.
Tries: Ioane, Genia
Pen: Cooper 2
Pen: Carter 2
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Guy Shepherdson, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Will Chambers.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Ryan Crotty.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
By Adam Kyriacou