Quade Cooper kicked a last-minute penalty to snatch a dramatic 17-16 win for the Queensland Reds over the Canterbury Crusaders in their Super 15 clash in Brisbane yesterday.
Before an Australian record crowd of 48,301 for a Super Rugby game, the Reds showed resilience and composure to deny the seven-time champions victory after the Crusaders had hit the front minutes before.
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw was penalized by Australian referee Stuart Dickinson for hands in the ruck as he attempted a turnover to give Wallaby flyhalf Cooper his shot at the clinching penalty.
Queensland won their 12th straight match at home and consolidated their position at the top of the Australian Conference and overall tournament standings with three matches left before next month’s top-six playoffs.
For a time the Crusaders looked to be grinding their way to victory after whittling away Queensland’s 14-10 lead five minutes after halftime.
All Black Dan Carter, who outpointed Cooper in the battle of the flyhalves, kicked a 69th-minute penalty and another five minutes from time to put the Crusaders ahead, before Cooper’s late intervention.
The match was played at a breathless pace and the Reds outscored the Crusaders two tries to one to signal that the Australian outfit loom as genuine contenders for their maiden Super Rugby title this season.
“That was a massive effort from the boys and that was a good night,” Reds skipper James Horwill said. “The boys just kept getting up for each other in defense and that speaks volumes for what this group is about. We know that the Crusaders are a quality side and they are always going to keep coming at you so no lead is safe, but credit to the boys.”
McCaw, who had a running battle with referee Dickinson over his rulings, pointed to the Crusaders’ lack of discipline for the loss.
“You can’t afford to do that. I’m proud of the way we got ourselves back into the game and I didn’t feel we were out of it,” McCaw said. “We played some pretty smart rugby to put them under pressure, especially in the first half, but we didn’t get the reward we could have got ... you can’t afford that ill-discipline. The Reds when they get good set-piece ball are a difficult team to contain and we did well to put some pressure on their lineout and scrum, but these are the games you want to win and it’s disappointing to come away with a loss.”
The Reds scored against the run of play in the 22nd minute when center Ben Tapuai appeared to benefit from an unsighted forward pass to score and Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia put the home side in front five minutes after the resumption with a dart to the corner from a scrum win.
The Crusaders scored their only try 10 minutes from halftime through winger Brent Ward after a break by center Robert Fruean.
SHARKS 26, WARATAHS 21
REUTERS, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie kept alive his team’s playoff hopes when he scored 21 points on Saturday in a victory over Australia’s New South Wales Waratahs.
The 20-year-old Springbok prodigy scored an excellent individual try and followed it up with four penalties and two conversions to give the Sharks their eighth win in 13 matches.
The result moved them to within five points of the Stormers at the top of the South African Conference.
In a free-flowing match, the visitors opened the scoring in the fifth minute through a penalty by fullback Kurtley Beale, before Sharks flyhalf Lambie crossed for the first try five minutes later.