Reds out-duel Cheetahs in try-fest
March 7, 2014
The Reds paid tribute to their mothers wearing special pink-trimmed jerseys featuring their mums' names
© Getty Images
Quade Cooper became Queensland's record Super Rugby points-scorer while the Reds bagged five tries, but they still have concerns after a Jekyll-and-Hyde 43-33 win over the Cheetahs on Friday night.
Cooper finished with 18 points to break Elton Flatley's Super Rugby mark of 629 points while centre Chris Feauai-Sautia scored a brace of tries at Suncorp Stadium. Cooper also reconfirmed his commitment to eclipse Michael Lynagh's all-time Queensland record of 1166.
"I couldn't be more excited to be in the history books for Queensland rugby," Cooper said. "I've spoken about my love and passion for Queensland rugby in the past and, to have my name etched in the history books, I'm very proud of it.
"There were moments tonight where we should have shut (the game) out ... but we're heading down the right path."
It was a crucial victory for the home side, who now set off on a two-match tour of South Africa, but coach Richard Graham won't be pleased with their performance. In one of the crazier encounters in 19 Super seasons, both sides were their own worst enemy in the frenetic 76-point affair in front of 27,760 fans. It was 14-14 after 12 minutes, and six tries were scored in the first half as the Reds took a 29-20 lead into the break. Smashed 32-5 by the Waratahs last week, Queensland's attack improved but their ill-discipline and decision-making almost undid them against the freewheeling visitors.
The Reds created more chances and should have shut the tiring Cheetahs out at 40-26 with 10 minutes to play, but they invited the visitors back into the game through a flurry of flaky moments. The Cheetahs' scrum also dominated while bloodied flanker Liam Gill's night finished early due to a first-half head clash with Ed Quirk that has him in doubt for next weekend's match with the Sharks in Durban.
"We go to Africa with two wins out of three and five points tonight so [tonight] is a good result for us," Graham said. "The Cheetahs are a slippery side." But captain James Horwill accepted that the Reds had to be more clinical to score their first win against the physical Sharks in Durban in a decade.
The Reds defeated the Cheetahs in a crazy encounter in Brisbane (video available only in Australia)
Cooper's grubber kick for Feauai-Sautia's second try in the 54th minute seemed to kill off the visitors, but the Cheetahs bounced back when Sarel Pretorius kicked a grubber to setti up a late Elgar Watts try.
The scene for a frenetic night was set in the opening 90 seconds when Queensland were awarded a penalty try and Cheetahs winger Ryano Benjamin was sin-binned for kicking the ball out of Feauai-Sautia's hands as the Reds centre attempted to plant the ball on the goal-line.
But the visitors crossed twice while down to 14 men, with Willie le Roux charging down another ill-conceived Will Genia box-kick for Francois Venter to score before Cooper threw a wayward spiral pass for Boom Prinsloo to intercept and canter 50 metres to dot down under the crossbar.
Cheetahs sharpshooter Johan Goosen kicked two long-range penalty goals, but the Reds continued to test the visitors' defence and bagged two more tries late in the half for a 29-20 lead at the break.
Strauss lamented his team's poor handling and inability to finish one or two more try-scoring chances, while coach Naka Drotske was upset by his side's "soft defence" when Reds hooker James Hanson cleaned up a speculative, no-look Cooper pass with the siren already sounded and beat three defenders in a 20-metre sprint down the sideline.
Drotske said his team had to pick up at least one victory from their two games in New Zealand to stay alive in the hunt for a second consecutive finals appearance.