Three tries from wing Rod Davies saw the Reds romp to a 30-13 win over the Blues in an action-packed semi-final on Saturday.
Three tries from wing Rod Davies saw the Reds romp to a 30-13 win over the Blues in an action-packed Super Rugby semi-final in Brisbane on Saturday.
The result sees the Reds book a home final – their first ever decider – against either the Stormers or the Crusaders next weekend.
A jam-packed Suncorp Stadium was treated to a fabulous 80 minutes of rugby with home fly-half Quade Cooper starring once again.
The table-topping Reds have set the benchmark on attack this season but you don't get this far without a solid defence and Ewen McKenzie's men put on an impressive display, allowing the visitors just one try to their four.
The home side led from start to finish as two tries from long range helped them open up a 15-0 advantage, although the Blues struck back just before the break to leave the score at 15-7 when the teams swapped ends.
The Reds drew first blood early on with an 80m intercept try by Davies, who latched onto an ambitious pass out wide by Lachie Munro. No one was going to catch the fastest man on the pitch and Davies could touch down under the posts to set up and easy conversion for Cooper in the 13th minute.
The hosts' second try was right out of the top draw. Cooper produced a moment of pure magic to dance his away down the touchline, leaving four defenders in his wake before off-loading inside to Ben Tapuai, who bisected two more blue jerseys in a clinical finish.
Cooper wasn't having a great night from the kicking tee and missed the conversion but was able to find the mark with a penalty five minutes later to extend the lead to 15 points.
The Reds looked set to maintain that advantage at the break but lock Chris Lowrey had other ideas, slaloming his way through heavy traffic to pull a try back after the half-time hooter to keep the visitors in contention.
The Blues made a strong start to the second half and further reduced the gap when Luke McAlister slammed over a 50m penalty.
But the Reds' reply was almost immediate as Davies scored his second try with a scintillating run, attacking the Blues' defence line with the perfect angle and using his pace to beat his defender on the outside.
Another long-range penalty from McAlister kept the Blues in touch at 20-13 but that man Davies provided the killer blow, shrugging off tackles from Stephen Brett and Keven Mealamu to score in the corner.
A late drop-goal from Cooper sealed a deserved win.
Man of the match: It was a bit of a debate but since Cooper missed four kicks, we'll go with Rod Davies for his hat-trick, the first in Reds history. Congratulations to those of you who followed our Tipster's advice – at 40/1 you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Moment of the match: The crowd were on their feet when Cooper set up Ben Tapuai's try. It was a moment of attacking genius: a hand off, two outrageous dummies, a step, a jink and some gas followed by an accurate offload and a top-class finish to give the Reds a two-try lead. Bravo!
Villain of the match: No bad guys to be seen. What an advertisement for the game.
For the Reds:
Tries: Davies 3, Tapuai
Cons: Cooper 2
For the Blues:
Pens: McAlister 2
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Guy Shepherdson, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Will Chambers.
Blues: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Lachie Munro, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams , 4 Chris Lowrey, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Charlie Faumuina.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau , 18 James King, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Rene Ranger, 22 Sherwin Stowers.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)