Quade Cooper set a club point-scoring record to steer the Queensland Reds to a high-scoring 43-33 Super 15 win over South Africa’s Central Cheetahs in Brisbane yesterday.
The Wallaby playmaker kicked 18 points from three conversions and four penalty goals as the Reds bounced back from their heavy 32-5 loss to the Waratahs to claim a bonus-point victory.
Queensland scored five tries to three, with Cooper becoming the Reds’ highest points scorer with 638 career points, eclipsing Elton Flatley’s 629.
Although the Reds were largely dominant throughout the match, they needed a Cooper penalty after the siren to deny the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs a losing bonus point for finishing within seven points.
Chris Feauai-Sautia, switched to the centers, scored two tries and was also awarded a penalty try when Rayno Benjamin kicked the ball out of his hands over the tryline, and was subsequently yellow-carded in the opening two minutes.
Both teams exchanged converted tries to be locked at 14-14 after 11 breathless minutes before the Reds gained the edge through further tries to Feauai-Sautia and hooker James Hanson to lead 29-20 at halftime.
The Cheetahs looked out on their feet in an expansive second half and Feauai-Sautia scored his second try off a Cooper grubber kick to lead 34-23 after 54 minutes.
However, the South Africans got back to trail 40-33 with seven minutes left when replacement Elgar Watts trailed a Sarel Pretorius line break to score near the posts.
Cooper kicked his fourth penalty after the fulltime siren to give the Reds a 10-point winning margin and leave them unbeaten in four encounters with the Cheetahs in Brisbane.
It was the Reds’ second win of the season to close to within one point of the New South Wales Waratahs in the Australian conference.
“It was good to get a win at home, especially with a bonus point,” Reds skipper James Horwill said. “We probably let them back into the game with our errors and we know that’s the sort of team they are — they feed off your mistakes and we gave them too much good ball, and they capitalized on it.”
“We wanted to play a bit more field position and put them under pressure at the right end of the park, especially when we had that lead, and they got back into the game,” he added.
It was more disappointment for the Cheetahs, who have now lost three of their opening four games and head to New Zealand where they take on the Hurricanes in Wellington next weekend.
“At times we played a bit better than last weekend, but there’s still a lot to work on and we’re very disappointed,” Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss said.
The Reds now head to South Africa where they face the Coastal Sharks in Durban next weekend.