Planet Rugby

Reds edge Brisbane humdinger

13th May 2011 10:14

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Quade Cooper celebrating try for Reds against Blues

Got them going: Quade Cooper

The Reds moved top of the overall standings on Friday courtesy of a mesmerising 37-31 win over the Blues.

Two of the competition's more entertaining franchises did not disappoint as 68 points were scored, with both outfits claiming try bonus-points.

The Reds' win kept them undefeated at home this season, stretching their winning run at Suncorp to 11 games in total, while the Blues fell to only their second defeat of the 2011 campaign.

The result also means that the Reds will finish the weekend at the top of both the Super Rugby overall standings and the Australian conference.

But it was certainly not easy for the hosts, who had to dig deep in the final quarter to stave off an incredible comeback from the Blues.

The game looked dead and buried after half-an-hour at which point the Reds held a 24-0 lead. But two tries in two minutes for the visitors just before the break left the Reds ahead 27-14 at half-time.

A barnstorming start to the second-half saw the New Zealand conference leaders reduce the gap to just three points at 27-24 going into the last quarter.

However a charge-down try from replacement hooker James Hanson swung the momentum back in the Reds' favour with twenty minutes to play.

Blues will not head home empty handed as two bonus points leave them second in the overall standings and five points clear of the Crusaders at the top of the New Zealand conference.

Reds fly-half Quade Cooper had another blinder, scoring 22 points - including the opening try - and also made several key tackles late in the match.

The Reds got off to a flyer as Cooper touched down in the corner, before Saia Faingaa ran in the home side's second try 25 minutes in, benefiting from brilliant lead-up play from man-of-the-match Digby Ioane and a skillful offload from flanker Scott Higginbotham.

Higginbotham was on hand for number three shortly afterwards, taking a pass from Beau Robinson, who had split the defence.

The Blues hit back in the closing stages of the half when flanker Chris Lowrey scored from close range before replacement Lachie Munro grabbed their second just two minutes later.

The Blues opened the second half with the same precision they showed in the dying stages of the first, and within five minutes Alby Mathewson had their third try, after breakaway fly-half Stephen Brett showed great vision to find him in support.

With all the momentum against them, the Reds finally fought back when Hanson struck after blocking Brett's attempted clearance.

Cooper's long-range penalty with 11 minutes left increased the margin to 13 points and left the Blues with the difficult task of scoring two converted tries in the closing minutes.

Rene Ranger scored a late try for Aucklanders well after the final hooter with McAlister's touchline conversion securing the second bonus point.

The scorers:

For Reds:
Tries: Cooper, S Faingaa, Higginbotham, Hanson
Con: Cooper 4
Pen: Cooper 3

For Blues:
Tries: Lowrey, Munro, Mathewson, Ranger
Con: McAlister 4
Pen: McAlister

Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Luke Morahan, 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, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Guy Shepherdson, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Will Chambers, 22 Dom Shipperley.

Blues: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Josevata Rokocoko, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 James King, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 Sherwin Stowers.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

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