The Queensland Reds showed glimpses of the form that delivered them last year’s Super 15 title in a 23-11 win yesterday that saw the Auckland Blues slump to their sixth successive defeat.
The Reds stunned Auckland with two early tries and never let Auckland back into the match, dominating at the breakdown and capitalizing on the New Zealanders’ misfiring lineout.
They scored three tries to one, keeping alive their hopes of a playoff berth, while the Blues remained rooted to the bottom of the Super 15 table with one win in nine matches.
Queensland captain James Horwill said the return of Digby Ioane, Ben Lucas and Mike Harris added depth to a team that knew it was facing a Blues outfit desperate for a win in front of the Eden Park crowd.
“We came with the right attitude and got the result we were looking for,” he said. “The more players we get back, the better it is for us.”
The Reds made their intentions clear with a try in the first minute, with flyhalf Lucas finding Rob Simmons with a pin-point kick that the lock offloaded for Ioane to score in the corner.
Lucas then set up the Queenslanders’ second after a turnover five minutes later, slipping the ball to Luke Morahan, who sliced through a shambolic Blues defense for a try out wide.
Mike Harris nailed his second conversion attempt to make it 12-0 after just seven minutes.
The Blues were unable to mount a cohesive attack until they elected to run the ball after winning a penalty mid-way through the half, Luke Braid forcing his way over the tryline from the base of a rolling maul.
They threatened again when George Moala was held up on the line, but did enough to gain a penalty, with Gareth Anscombe narrowing the gap, only for Harris to restore the Reds’ seven-point buffer just before the break.
The Reds struck again soon after the re-start, pressuring the Blues down the middle, then again punishing the Blues out wide when Will Genia sent a looping pass to Dom Shipperley on the wing.
The Blues managed a penalty before sending Benson Stanley and Alby Mathewson on to give fresh legs to the attack, but could not break through the solid Queensland defense.