The St.George Queensland Reds made an impressive start to their Super Rugby pre-season with a 31-20 win against reigning champions the Chiefs in Toowoomba on Saturday night.
The Reds notched four tries in front of a 7,438-strong crowd at Toowoomba Sports Ground in the first of two pre-season clashes in 2014.
Queensland spread the ball at every opportunity and looked sharp, particularly when Quade Cooper and Will Genia were together calling the shots.
Three of the Reds’ tries came in the first half as they jumped out to a 24-8 lead at half time.
Former Waratahs and Wallabies winger Lachie Turner got the Reds off to a flying start, crossing for his first five-pointer in Reds colours after just two minutes.
Reds’ fullback Aidan Toua had put Turner into space and further helped his team’s cause just minutes later when he burst through the Chiefs’ defence, kicked ahead and then forced a Chiefs turnover, ultimately leading to a Reds’ penalty.
Cooper guided the penalty goal through the sticks and the Reds led 10-0.
The Chiefs took until the 15th minute to open their account when Ihaia West darted over from a scrum win.
The conversion attempt was missed and the Reds led 10-5.
Centre Mike Harris crossed for the Reds’ second try 20 minutes into the clash.
Prop Ben Daley added a third Reds try 10 minutes later and a sideline conversion by Cooper ensured the Reds stretched their lead to 24-8.
The Chiefs opened the scoring in the second half, with All Blacks forward Sam Cane crossing for the Chiefs’ second try in the 48th minute.
The Reds continued to lead from the front, however, with Chris Feauai-Sautia scoring six minutes later.
Some sustained pressure from the Chiefs led to their third try when successive penalties saw them go over in the 64th minute.
Reds coach Richard Graham said the game had provided a snapshot of how the Reds wanted to play.
“I thought it was a good hit-out for us. I thought we played some really good Rugby in patches,” Graham said.
“We had a strong focus on the way we wanted to go about our business.
“The thing I was most pleased with was probably our discipline in field position.”
The Reds’ second pre-season match is this Friday, 14 February, at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane against the Melbourne Rebels.
The Reds’ regular season starts February 22, with clashes on the road to the Brumbies and the Waratahs, before their first match at Suncorp Stadium against the Cheetahs on Friday 7 March.
St.George Queensland Reds 31 (Lachie Turner, Mike Harris, Ben Daley, Chris Feauai-Sautia tries; Quade Cooper 4 conversions, 1 penalty goal) defeated Chiefs 20 (Ihaia West, Sam Cane, Jarrod Firth tries; Ihaia West 1 conversion, 1 penalty goal) at Toowoomba Sports Ground. (Referee: Damien Mitchelmore) (Crowd: 7,438) (Half time: Reds 24 – Chiefs 8).