Rebels no match for Reds

06th May 2011, 19:07

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Easy does it: Saia Faingaa on the charge for the rampant Reds

Easy does it: Saia Faingaa on the charge for the rampant Reds

The Reds returned to winning ways and made it a double over the Rebels this year, thanks to a 33-18 Super Rugby victory in Melbourne.

The Reds returned to winning ways and made it a double over the Rebels this season, thanks to a 33-18 Super Rugby victory in Melbourne on Friday.

It was a better effort from the tournament newbies, who had 50 points put past them the last time these teams met.

However, the Rebels were their own worst enemies with far too many sloppy tackles paving the way towards a four-try bonus point for the Queenslanders.

The hosts at least managed three of their own, but were let down by some wayward goal-kicking by Julian Huxley and then Stirling Mortlock which didn't help the Rebels' cause.

Huxley did, however, manage to get his team on the scoreboard first thanks to an opening penalty four minutes into the match after making a mess of the kick-off.

Reds pivot Quade Cooper leveled the scores with a straight-forward three-pointer, before Scott Higginbotham exposed the Rebels' defenders with a bull-dozing run along the touchline that ended with the flank over a try.

It was far too easy for the in-form loose forward, who slipped off as many as four tackles.

Cooper missed the conversion but the Reds were at it again, this time Radike Samo couldn't believe his luck as the Rebels' line of defence opened up for the number eight to dot down under the posts for the Queenslanders' second five-pointer.

Cooper slotted over the extras from bang in front and added another penalty in the 26th minute that gave the Reds a commanding 18-3 lead.

The Rebels hit back following a powerful run by Gareth Delve, who then found James Hilgendorf in support and the pivot was over for the try. Hilgendorf's effort came at a price though, and was forced off the pitch after landing awkwardly behind the line.

Huxley failed to convert from right in front, and with Danny Cipriani watching from the stands, they now were without a fly-half. Huxley took over at pivot, but the Rebels were dealt another blow when centre Mark Gerrard hobbled off with an injury.

The Reds took full advantage, and turned mounting pressure into points courtesy of another Cooper penalty. The Queenslanders were celebrating their third try after some brilliant vision from Will Genia, had replacement back Dom Shipperley over in the corner following a well-judged cross-field chip.

Cooper missed another conversion but the Reds were all smiles going into the break eighteen points (26-8) ahead.

The Reds took their foot off the gas slightly in the second half, as the Rebels tried in vain to give the Melbourne crowd something to cheer about. The stadium erupted when Reds centre Mike Harris was yellow-carded and the hosts used the one-man advantage to put replacement back Afusipa Taumoepeau over in the corner.

Huxley missed the conversion and the Reds responded the best way they know how through a try to Tweeting winger Digby Ioane who left the Rebels chasing shadows for his team's fourth try.

With the bonus point in the bag and the match all but wrapped up, Rebels wing Peter Betham had the last laugh with a dubious try that was strangely allowed by the TMO.

Mortlock missed the conversion, which summed up the Rebels night, as his troops were left to ponder a third defeat on the trot.

Only once in the professional rugby era has a Queensland team recorded nine victories in a season - in 1996 - with the win solidifying the Reds lead in the Australian conference heading into their blockbuster match-up with the Blues next Friday at Suncorp Stadium.

The scorers:

For Rebels:
Tries: Hilgendorf, Taumoepeau, Betham
Pen:
Huxley

For Reds:
Tries: Higginbotham, Samo, Shipperley, Ioane
Cons: Cooper 2
Pens: Cooper 3

Rebels: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mark Gerrard, 12 Stirling Mortlock (c), 11 Peter Betham, 10 James Hilgendorf, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Hoani Macdonald, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Greg Somerville.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Nic Henderson, 18 Adam Byrnes, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Sam Cordingley, 21 Cooper Vuna, 22 Afusipa Taumoepeau.

Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 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 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Leroy Houston, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Will Chambers, 22 Dom Shipperley.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)