Dave Rennie’s Wallabies stocks have taken a beating as the Queensland Reds beat the Melbourne Rebels 25-13 to book their spot in the Super Rugby AU final.
Queensland lost Jordan Petaia (concussion) and Chris Feauai-Sautia (groin) while Rebels trio and Australian regulars Dane Haylett-Petty (groin), Matt Toomua (groin) and Jordan Uelese (shoulder) all limped off in the second half.
All would be in the mix to feature in Rennie’s first national squad, due to be named on Sunday ahead of Tests later this year.
The Reds’ backline finished in disarray but they somehow emerged victorious and will play the Brumbies in Canberra next Saturday for the title.
In the end it was hulking prop Taniela Tupou who ran a brilliant line to set up winger Filipo Daugunu for the match-sealing try with five minutes to play.
Centre Petaia looked set for a massive night when he intercepted Toomua’s pass to run 65 metres for the game’s first try.
He fumbled close to the line as a second try went begging and was no sooner on the sidelines after a nasty head clash in a tackle.
Roving winger Marika Koroibete caught the Reds napping to score on halftime for a 10-10 game, before Hunter Paisami broke the line to set up Lukhan Salakaia-Loto for the Reds’ go-ahead try early in the second half.
The Rebels had their chances, Billy Meakes’ forward pass bombing one try and Isi Naisarani charging down a kick but watching the ball cruelly bounce dead.
Andrew Kellaway should have scored the game’s first try but stepped on the line after gathering Toomua’s pin-point cross-field chip.
They also kicked the ball away numerous times when rolling forward in attack in the second half.
Daugunu did his Wallabies aspirations no harm with some terrific defensive efforts, showing his versatility to force a crucial breakdown turnover and nailing another Rebel into touch in cover defence with the game in the balance.