The St George Queensland Reds have suffered a disappointing 32-5 loss to the NSW Waratahs in Sydney, in their second outing of the 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby tournament.
The Reds are now one win from two games, having beaten the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend. They return to Brisbane to face the Cheetahs in their first home game at Suncorp Stadium this Friday.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said his side would be eager to make amends.
“We’re obviously disappointed. They’re a good side and we gave them too much momentum in the first half,” Graham said.
“We’ve got a short turnaround to our next game, hosting the Cheetahs at Suncorp Stadium next Friday. That’s the perfect opportunity for the team to bounce back from this disappointment.”
The Reds’ only try came from Lachie Turner late in the first half, while the Waratahs crossed four times through Israel Folau (2), Kurtley Beale and Peter Betham.
There was steady rain in Sydney during the day leading up to the match and the Reds went behind after just 5 minutes when a Beale half-break led to Folau’s first try, Bernard Foley missing the conversion.
The Waratahs were piling on the early pressure, but the Reds stayed calm and slowly worked themselves into the game.
The Reds’ defensive line was breached again shortly after by a break from Adam Ashley-Cooper, but good defence from flanker Eddie Quirk shut down a dangerous situation.
Quirk was again strong in defence minutes later, combining with Saia Fainga’a to snuff out another dangerous NSW offence out wide.
The Reds were keeping the ball in hand, building up the phases, but stern defence from NSW held firm.
Things were made tougher for the Reds on 25 minutes as Folau again finished off a break from open play to score his second try of the match. Foley this time converted to put the home team up 12-0.
Jake Schatz broke the Waratahs’ momentum with brilliant work at the breakdown on 30 minutes and the Reds set up a lineout 30 metres out. But once again the home team disrupted the ball at the breakdown.
Anthony Fainga’a looked to have won a ball at the breakdown moments later but referee Glenn Jackson awarded the home team a penalty.
Shortly after, an inside ball from Beale saw Peter Betham go over for NSW’s third try. The conversion to Foley made it 19-0.
The Reds nearly hit back straight away with a superb pass from Quade Cooper putting Toua in to space. The young fullback then put in a clever kick and just as Dom Shipperley looked to pounce, Folau illegally scooped the ball into touch.
Folau received a yellow card for his action and the Reds made the man advantage work immediately.
Rob Simmons took the ball from the five-metre lineout and a powerful drive sucked in the NSW defence. Genia picked the perfect moment to release the ball wide and a quick ball from Toua saw Turner go over to score his second try in just his second game for the Reds.
Cooper’s conversion slipped by the right upright and the Reds went to the break trailing 19-5.
James Hanson came on for Saia Fainga’a at half-time as the Reds looked to close the gap. Ben Daley was on for James Slipper soon after.
NSW attacked again but clever work from Cooper stripped the ball from Tatafu Polota-Nau ten metres out.
But a strong scrum from NSW won a penalty for the home side and a quick tap from Beale after some advantage play, saw him sneak over for a try. Foley’s conversion put NSW out to a 26-5 lead as Folau came back on to the field.
Beau Robinson and Chris Feauai-Sautia were then brought on as the Reds fought to get back in the match.
A strong point for the Reds were the lineouts, where they continued to win NSW throws, stealing five in all in the match. James Horwill stole one of those in the Reds’ 22 on 55 minutes and good pressure from Robinson when the ball was cleared downfield saw the Reds win a penalty.
Horwill won another lineout against the throw on 60 minutes to diffuse another dangerous situation, but Foley landed a penalty goal soon after to increase the lead to 29-5.
Liam Gill continued to be prominent at the breakdown as he put in another tireless 80-minute performance, especially in defence where he notched up a game-high 17 tackles.
Foley added another late penalty to make the final score 32-5.
St George Queensland Reds 5 (Lachie Turner try) lost to NSW Waratahs 32 (Israel Folau 2, Peter Betham, Kurtley Beale tries; Bernard Foley 3 conversions, 2 penalties) at ANZ Stadium, Sydney. (Half time: Queensland Reds 5 NSW 19).