The Reds' tour of South Africa got off to a winning start on Friday with a resounding 31-10 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The Reds made hard work of the first half, not helped by an idiotic trip by Quade Cooper which left them a man short and which saw Ashley Johnson storm through the fly-half channel in his absence for the Cheetahs' only try.
But helped by a commanding performance from Will Genia and some super defence, the visitors took control in the second half to rack up 20 unanswered points for the win.
Meyer Bosman opened the scoring early with a penalty, but it was Genia who scored the first try, sniping over from the back of a ruck into the corner. Cooper, who had missed a long-range penalty, also dragged his conversion to the left.
Cooper's indiscretion took the sting out of the Reds' attacks, which had been running well under the fly-half's direction and the bustling breaks of Digby Ioane and Anthony Faingaa up the middle. Bjorn Basson had been the main threat for the home side, but the Cheetahs found it hard to work him into enough space.
Then came Cooper's moment of madness. Although Genia knocked over a penalty in his absence, the Cheetahs enjoyed their best spell, culminating in Ashley Johnson's charge off the back of a scrum over the line. Bosman gave the Cheetahs the lead with the extras.
Cooper came back on and redeemed himself from the tee on the stroke of half-time to give his side a one-point lead going into the changing rooms, then extended that lead moments after the break with another penalty.
The crucial moment came on 46 minutes, when Saia Faingaa stole a ball and, helped by three forwards, broke 50 metres down the right. Eventually the Reds won a penalty in front of the posts and Peter Hynes tapped and went over.
The Cheetahs turned down several shots at goal in search of a comeback try but were repelled several times, twice held up and twice turning ball over on the line.
From an excellent kick to the corner by Cooper, the Reds enjoyed better field position. Higginbotham was held up over the line but back came the play for Cooper to land his third penalty of the night.
A cruel blow came moments later, as Ashley Johnson gave away ball at his own scrum near the line and from the next play, Anthony Faingaa switched with Genia for the third try and the final nail in the Cheetahs' coffin.
Man of the match: Will Genia. Mature at scrum-half way beyond his years.
For the Cheetahs:
For the Reds:
Tries: Genia, Hynes, A.Faingaa
Cons: Cooper 2
Pens: Genia, Cooper 3
Cheetahs: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Barend Pieterse, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Corné Uys, 22 Wilmaure Louw.
Reds: 15 Peter Hynes, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Digby Ioane, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Brando Va'aulu, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (c), 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Jake Schatz, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Van Humphries, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Sean Hardman, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Adam Byrnes, 19 Ezra Taylor, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Will Chambers, 22 Rod Davies.
Referee: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)