The Reds proved too strong for the Western Force as they sealed a 57-5 victory in their Super Rugby AU clash on the Gold Coast on Friday.
The Brisbane-based outfit were full value for their win as they secured a bonus-point after outscoring the Force eight tries to one and the result means they provisionally move to the top of the standings, although that situation could change if the Brumbies beat the Waratahs in Canberra on Saturday.
James O’Connor led the way for the Reds with a 22-point haul courtesy of a try, seven conversions and a penalty, while their other points came via tries from Filipo Daugunu (2), Tate McDermott (2), Fraser McReight, Bryce Hegarty and Tuaina Tualima.
Andrew Ready scored the Force’s only points when he crossed for a try early in the second half.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested with both sides spending time in their opponents’ half, although the Reds took control of proceedings as the half progressed.
In the 15th minute, Taniela Tupou dotted down from close quarters after running onto a pass from Brandon Paenga-Amosa but his try was disallowed after television replays revealed a handling error from Liam Wright in the build-up.
That did not deter the visitors and shortly afterwards Daugunu gathered an inside pass from O’Connor inside the Force’s 22 and he did well to step past a couple of defenders before scoring the opening try.
That try boosted the Reds’ confidence levels as they held the upper hand during the rest of the half which led to them having a bulk of the possession and they also spent long periods camped inside Force territory.
And on the half-hour mark, they increased their lead when Hegarty and O’Connor combined brilliantly to create space for Daugunu out wide and he crossed for his second five-pointer.
The Reds continued to dominate during the closing stages of the half and in the 38th minute O’Connor slotted a penalty which gave them a 15-0 lead at half-time.
The @Reds_Rugby run riot over the Force 🤯 🔥
— Fox Rugby (@FOXRUGBY) August 21, 2020
The Force needed a response and that came shortly after the restart when Ready scored their only try off the back of a lineout drive deep inside the Reds’ 22.
Despite that setback, the Reds did not panic and in the 55th minute McReight crossed the whitewash after gathering a brilliant offload from O’Connor close to the Force’s try-line.
The next 10 minutes was the McDermott show as the diminutive scrum-half scored two tries in quick succession. His second five-pointer was a thing of beauty as he took a tap penalty midway between the Force’s 10-metre line and the halfway mark and set off on a mazy run, in which he beat four defenders, before scoring a deserved try.
With the game in the bag for the Reds, their opponents seemed to raise the white flag and further tries from O’Connor, Hegarty and Tualima during the game’s closing stages sealed an emphatic win for the Brisbane-based outfit.