Queensland Reds fans may finally have something to cheer about after Brisbane City sealed back-to-back National Rugby Championship (NRC) titles on Saturday.
Brisbane City became the first NRC team to finish a season undefeated when they downed University of Canberra Vikings 21-10 in the grand final in front of a 4327-strong Ballymore crowd.
They are now on a record 14-game winning streak that began in round eight last year.
Brisbane led 13-10 at halftime before interchange regular Alex Gibbon’s 73rd minute try iced the result.
Brisbane City featured a strong core of Queensland Reds Super Rugby squad members, including halfback and man of the match Nick Frisby.
Coach Nick Stiles believed his team’s success should spill over to the Reds next Super Rugby season – much to Queensland fans’ relief.
The Reds are still reeling from a horror, injury-riddled 2015 season in which they finished third last with a 4-12 record.
Stiles reckoned the Reds would be the direct beneficiary of the combinations further developed in their record-breaking run, including Frisby and Jake McIntyre, a likely replacement for Quade Cooper at five eighth.
“It’s very exciting for Queensland Reds fans,” said Stiles, who is also Reds forwards coach.
“To think we’ve got a lot of combinations in today’s game for Brisbane City who will theoretically be starting combinations for the Reds next year.
“And throw in (World Cup Wallabies) James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Rob Simmons and it shows the platform we are going to have up front.”
Brisbane City beat the Vikings 37-31 three weeks ago and another free-flowing affair was expected.
However, an at times scrappy encounter developed as Brisbane City defied the Vikings monster pack featuring six Brumbies players led by Ben Alexander.
“That was the hardest game we have played this year,” Brisbane City captain Liam Gill said. “We had to step up and we did.”
Stiles was not surprised by the grand final arm wrestle.
“We put a lot of work into our defence this season with this grand final in mind,” he said.
“It didn’t happen by accident.”
Canberra’s five-eighth, former Wallaby Christian Lealiifano, was again outstanding but could not stop the Vikings suffering just their second loss of the year – each to Brisbane City.
Vikings winger Francis Fainifo – replacing Jerome Niumata in the starting side – scored off a scrum in the second minute, making it Canberra’s fastest try of the year.
Both sides traded tries before Frisby weaved his way over to score in the 32nd minute to give the hosts the 13-10 halftime buffer.