Freddie Burns produces turnover of his lifetime to save Highlanders’ season
When you think a Freddie Burns, plenty of things might spring to mind- his legendary drop goal to win the Gallagher Premiership last season might be one- but his work at the breakdown is probably not something that is immediately associated with the former England No10.
That was until he came up against the Reds on Friday in Super Rugby Pacific at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Despite trailing 27-14 with only 20 minutes remaining, Burns steered his side to a 28-27 lead with ten minutes left, coming very close to scoring a try himself before offloading the ball to Connor Garden-Bachop.
But no sooner had the Reds lost their lead than they were on the attack again, and if the previous 70 minutes had shown anything, it was that they could attack very well. A counter from a kick saw the Reds work their way well into the Highlanders’ 22, and with the hosts scrambling in defence, a try was very possible if the ball was recycled quickly. That’s when Burns stepped up to the plate. After fullback Mitch Hunt brought flanker Fraser McReight to the ground, Burns pounced on the ball like prime David Pocock, winning a penalty for his side. It was a crucial intervention from one of the most unlikely of people, but it summed up what a game he had.
The Reds did score a penalty a few minutes later, giving them the lead again before Folau Fakatava scored in the corner at the death to give the Highlanders the win. However, had the Reds scored the try, it would have been a hammer blow to the Highlanders who had fought back into the game and one they would have found very hard to battle back from.
Instead, the hosts won, which kept their hopes of making the Super Rugby play-offs alive before the final match of the season next week against the Blues.
Take a look at the turnover: