A last-minute try from Wycliff Palu saw the Waratahs come from behind to steal a 30-28 win against Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
A last-minute try from Wycliff Palu saw the Waratahs come from behind to steal a 30-28 win against Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Outscored three tries to two and outplayed for 79 minutes, the fourteen-man Waratahs pulled the game from the fire at the death.
The truth be told, the Waratahs probably didn't deserve to win. The Reds were the better side for most of the game but one or two slips in concentration were enough to see the result go the way of the team from Sydney.
There is clearly no love lost in the old Queensland – North South Wales rivalry. The physicality and needle was everything we've come to expect, exemplified by the roar from the crowd when Quade Cooper took his former team-mate Berrick Barnes out a touch late in the opening minutes.
All eyes were on Barnes after his defection at the end of last season but his influence on the game was kept to a minimum as the Reds' sheer enthusiasm and commitment on defence left him with very few options.
While the Waratahs were dominating in the scrums, they weren't doing themselves any favours at the restarts, where they consistently gave possession away.
The locals were loving it when Lachie Turner knocked-on in the process of crossing the tryline but Barnes answered the crowd at the end of the first quarter however, slotting an opportunistic drop goal to open the scores.
The Reds didn't take long to reply though, Daniel Braid burst his way through three tacklers to score a few minutes later after Cooper had drawn the defence with a drifting run before spinning off a skip pass.
The Waratahs missed out on a clear chance to score after half-an-hour as they chose a series of scrums rather than taking the points from a couple of penalties near the Reds line. You can't really blame them because Al Baxter was hammering Ben Daley, but when the final scrum ended in messy ball which was stolen, an opportunity was lost.
Cooper and Barnes exchanged penalties to give the Reds a 10-6 lead at the break.
The hosts extended their lead within minutes of the restart when skipper James Horwill exposed some very slack 'Tahs defending around the fringes to touch down from close range.
Cooper missed the conversion but made up for it with a 45-metre effort to reply to a Barnes penalty to leave the scores at 18-9 with half-an-hour left on the clock.
Barnes was on target again before Cooper did the old 'anything you can do, I can better' with a drop goal of his own.
Barnes' fourth penalty would be his final contribution before limping off at the start of the final quarter. Just like the Force on Friday, the Waratahs place-kickers were keeping them in the game and Daniel Halangahu added three points soon after coming on to set up a grandstand finish.
The knock-out blow looked to have come ten minutes from time when Ben Mowen pulled Will Genia back in a footrace to the tryline. The TMO confirmed referee Craig Joubert's suspicions and he awarded the penalty try.
The Waratahs weren't done yet though and when debutante wing Rory Sidey found himself in acres of space out wide, he scored probably the easiest try he will in his career.
Dean Mumm's yellow-card earning shoulder charge in the 75th minute should have finished the Waratahs off.
But one final attack in the dying seconds saw Palu find a gap and dive over under the posts to rob the Reds of victory.
Man of the match: We don't usually give the award to someone from the losing side, but Quade Cooper put his off-field issues aside to lead the Reds attack with distinction.
For the Reds:
Tries: Braid, Horwill, Penalty try
Cons: Cooper 2
Pens: Cooper 2
For the Waratahs:
Pens: Barnes 4, Halangahu
Yellow card: Mumm (Waratahs – 75th min – shoulder charge)
Reds: 15 Peter Hynes, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Morgan Turinui, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 James Horwill, 5 Van Humphries, 4 Adam Byrnes, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 James Slipper, 18 Ezra Taylor, 19 Andrew Shaw, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Tim Walsh, 22 Will Chambers.
Waratahs: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Tom Carter, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Cam Jowitt, 4 Will Caldwell, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Ben Mowen, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Rory Sidey.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Paul Marks (Australia), Stephen Hill (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)