Brumbies 12 Reds 13

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 26:  James Horwill of the Reds is tackled during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Reds at Canberra Stadium on May 26, 2012 in Canberra, Australia.

Seeing red ... James Horwill is tackled as the Reds move forward. Photo: Getty Images

QUEENSLAND REDS blew the race to the top of the Australian conference wide open with a gritty victory at Canberra Stadium last night.

MATCH STATS

In a stop-start contest, the defending Super Rugby champions held on to beat the resurgent ACT Brumbies. Rookie Brumbies five-eighth Zack Holmes had a chance to win the match in the dying seconds with a penalty shot from 38 metres out. But his shot sailed wide of the posts and the Reds escaped with a one-point win. It means the teams are almost level on points in the Australian conference with a guaranteed finals spot up for grabs.

26th May 2012, Story by    , Canberra Times Photo, Colleen Petch, Super Rugby Brumbies v Reds at Canberra Stadium, Liam Gill cops the forearm of Scott Fardy

Physical ... Liam Gill cops the forearm of Scott Fardy. Photo: Colleen Petch

The Reds have a bye next weekend, but because the Brumbies escaped the clash with a bonus point, Jake White's men sit only one point ahead on the ladder.

The game was built up as the final of the Australian conference. It lived up to expectations but wasn't an open and attacking match. Instead the teams traded penalties and desperately hung on in defence, with the Reds scoring the only try of the match in the third minute.

Both teams boast exciting back lines but the game was dominated by the forwards and clearing kicks. With Wallabies coach Robbie Deans watching from the stands, the teams bashed and belted each other in a brutally tight match.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 26:  Digby Ioane of the Reds is tackled during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Reds at Canberra Stadium on May 26, 2012 in Canberra, Australia.  (Photo by Stefan Postles/

A point in it ... Digby Ioane holds onto the ball. Photo: Getty Images

It was only the second time in Super Rugby history that the Reds had won in Canberra. But they will sweat on scan results on skipper James Horwill after he left the field in agony just after half-time with an injured knee.

He appeared to hyperextend his knee and heard a pop, but it is unknown whether the Wallabies captain will be available for the mid-year Tests against Wales and Scotland.

Reds halfback Will Genia admitted his team was fortunate. ''Yeah, it's a great result. Very fortunate at the end and the young kid [Holmes] missed,'' Genia said. ''A win's a win, we had to win it and we had to have lots of energy and enthusiasm. We go in with a good result and we come out of the bye with a positive attitude.''

Trailing by one point with less than a minute to go, the Reds conceded a penalty when Saia Faingaa was penalised at the breakdown. This gave Holmes a chance to step up and win the match. Before the last-gasp kick, he had nailed four penalty attempts to keep his side in the match. But his teammates rallied around him as the ball went to the left of the posts in a heart-breaking loss.

QUEENSLAND REDS 13 (Luke Morahan try Michael Harris con 2 pens) bt BRUMBIES 12 (Zack Holmes 4 pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Steve R. Walsh. Crowd: 16,123.