The St.George Queensland Reds returned to winning ways with a hard fought 22-17 victory over the Stormers in the Asteron Life Super Rugby clash at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The Reds were once again led in the scoring by an outstanding performance from flyhalf Quade Cooper, who landed 17 points, including a long range drop goal, to make the game safe late in the second half. Lock Rob Simmons scored the Reds only try.
Heavy rain during the week meant conditions were slippery underfoot at Suncorp with the temperature a humid 27 degrees at kick off.
But despite the conditions the Reds were determined, as always, to keep the ball in hand and played open, enterprising Rugby right from the whistle.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said the result was especially good considering the short turnaround from South Africa.
“It was a great win, it was outstanding. On the back of the travel and the shortened week I thought we showed a lot of character,” Graham said.
“I’m just really proud of the group.”
The Reds were almost rewarded early on after a clever offload from Cooper saw Rod Davies win a penalty after a late tackle.
However Cooper’s penalty attempt from 40 metres out to the left of the posts hit the upright.
The Reds continued to attack and a strong run from Ben Tapuai gave them some momentum on six minutes. Cooper then got back well to pull off a great cover tackle on Juan de Jongh after a dangerous counter-attack from the Springbok centre.
The Stormers however were in to score on 10 minutes after quick hands saw Damian de Allende go over out wide on the right. Peter Grant added the conversion and the visitors had an early 7-0 lead.
Strong smothering defence from the Stormers then contained the Reds and Grant missed an opportunity to increase the visitor’s lead with a long-range penalty shot on 17 minutes.
A strong burst off the back of the scrum from No.8 Jake Schatz then saw Will Genia earn a penalty which Cooper landed on 20 minutes to make it 7-3.
The Reds then had to hold off some spirited Stormers attack before Lachie Turner cleared and James Horwill chased well to pin the Stormers in their half. Play then stopped for an injury to Gio Aplon who went off with a dislocated elbow.
The home team then upped the ante and Dom Shipperley was tackled in to touch just metres out from the Stormers line after multiple phases.
The Stormers throw-in to the line out was not straight however and the Reds had a scrum just five metres out from the tryline. From the scrum Genia then again fed Shipperley who once more was stopped inches short but Simmons was on hand to pick up from the back of the ruck and dive over.
Cooper converted and the Reds were in front 10-7 after 25 minutes.
The Reds then piled on the pressure and Mike Harris made an incisive break but the ball came loose just as the home team looked set to score their second try.
Cooper and Grant then traded penalties to make it 13-10 at halftime. Shipperley was replaced just before half time due to injury with Ben Lucas coming on at fullback and Turner moving to the wing.
The Stormers poured on the attack early in the second half but a superb tackle from James Slipper saw de Jongh lose the ball on the Reds 22.
Genia then popped a few clever kicks over the Stormers defence that just eluded the Reds’ chasers.
The Stormers were having enormous problems with their lineout with Deon Fourie losing repeated lineouts through crooked throws.
Jono Owen then came on for prop Greg Holmes with Curtis Browning replacing the hard working flanker Ed Quirk as the tough collisions at the breakdown began to take their toll.
Yet another lost lineout from the Stormers then saw the Reds attack again. Tapuai was stopped just short of the line before the ball came wide to Davies. The Reds winger was also stopped short but the Stormers had infringed.
Cooper landed the penalty and the Reds led 16-10 on 57 minutes.
Lucas then re-gathered a high kick on 62 minutes and a break from James Hanson gave the Reds an attacking opportunity in the Stormers territory but Cooper’s chip kick was grounded by the Stormers.
Anthony Fainga’a then came on for Harris.
The Reds continued to attack but were met by stout Stormers defence. So Cooper took his chance and landed a well struck drop goal from 40 metres out to give the Reds some breathing room, 19-10 up with 13 minutes remaining.
Cooper then won a superb turnover on Jaco Taute. He then landed another penalty on 70 minutes to make it 22-10.
The Stormers finally got a lineout right and Sikhumbuzo Notshe forced his way over from five metres out after a Duane Vermuelen take. Demetri Catrakilis, on for Grant, converted from the touchline to make it 22-17 and set up a grandstand finish with only five minutes remaining.
The Stormers attacked desperately in the final minutes but the Reds defended resolutely to take out a well-deserved 22-17 victory.
The Reds now face the high-flying Western Force at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday night, 7.40pm (AEST), in a crucial Australian Conference derby.
Graham said he was looking forward to another match at home on the back of a full week of preparation.
“We’ll recover really well and prepare well, but I guess the challenge for us is to continue improving each week in the way we want to play.
“Next week will be a good opportunity for us, having had a full week of preparation.”
Full Time Result
ST GEORGE QUEENSLAND REDS 22 (Rob Simmons try; Quade Cooper conversion, 4 penalties, drop goal) defeated STORMERS 17 (Damian de Allende, Sikhumbuzo Notshe tries; Peter Grant conversion, penalty; Demetri Catrakilis conversion) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. (Half Time: Reds 13 Stormers 10), (Referee: Chris Pollock [NZL])
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