The Queensland Reds showed great resilience to fight off the ACT Brumbies for a 27-17 win to open their Super 15 season in Canberra yesterday.
The Reds defended resolutely for much of the second half to hold on to a three-point lead and claimed a clinching try through replacement winger Chris Feauai-Sautia in the final minutes to take the opening Australian derby of the Super Rugby season.
Queensland, with Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper in great attacking form, outscored the Brumbies three tries to one and frustrated Ben Mowen’s team with committed defense inside their own half after leading 17-9 at halftime.
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg had a night to forget, missing a penalty to level the scores with seven minutes left and then fumbling a high kick on his line and failing to pick up the ball, for Feauai-Sautia to dash over for the match-sealing try.
Cooper caught the eye in the opening quarter with pinpoint long passes for the Reds’ first two tries to winger Lachie Turner and fullback Aidan Toua, and chipped in with 13 points from three penalties and two conversions.
Former Wallaby winger Turner, playing in his first match for the Reds since switching from the NSW Waratahs, had a great debut with the opening try and a ball-and-all tackle to prevent Mogg from scoring for the Brumbies in the 30th minute.
The Reds take on the Waratahs next Saturday in Sydney, while the Brumbies travel to Perth to take on the Western Force.
HIGHLANDERS 29, BLUES 21
AFP, DUNEDIN, New Zealand
The Otago Highlanders made a mockery of preseason predictions when they opened their campaign this year with a 29-21 bonus-point win over the Auckland Blues in Dunedin yesterday.
Last year’s whipping boys of the New Zealand conference were expected to be at the bottom of the pile again, after losing a host of All Blacks in the offseason.
Instead, they scored four tries in a stunning opening encounter against the highly fancied Blues and with the bonus point find themselves heading their conference after the first round.
CHEETAHS 15, BULLS 9
South Africa’s Central Cheetahs claimed their first-ever Super Rugby victory over the Northern Bulls when they won 15-9 in torrential rain at the Free State Stadium on Friday.
There were no tries in a contest dictated by the weather conditions, which made running rugby difficult, and it was left to the boot of flyhalf Johan Goosen to seal the home side’s win.
Goosen landed four penalties and a drop-goal as the Cheetahs capitalized on the repeated infringements of the visitors, whose points came from penalties via Louis Fouche and Handre Pollard (two).