A dazzling four-try opening half set up the Queensland Reds for a 32-17 Super 15 victory to end a run of outs against the Coastal Sharks in Brisbane yesterday.
The 2011 Super Rugby champions shredded the Sharks’ defense to earn a four-try bonus point in just 34 minutes, before the South Africans recovered to win the second half 14-3.
The Durban-based Sharks had won six of their previous seven encounters against the Reds, including dumping Queensland out of last season’s playoffs 30-17 in Brisbane, but the Reds were clearly superior on this occasion.
Winger Rod Davies scored a brace of tries and the Faingaa twins, Saia and Anthony, scored a try each, with Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper heavily involved in all of the tries.
The highlight was a length-of-the-field try involving Cooper, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia, who rolled a kick across field for Davies to swoop and score his opening try in the 16th minute.
Cooper’s grubber-kick had the Sharks in disarray for Davies to claim his try double and land Queensland their first four-try bonus point at home this year.
However, the Reds could not reproduce their razzle-dazzle attack in the second half, with the Sharks scoring two converted tries through winger Piet Lindeque and replacement forward Derick Minnie to close the gap.
Cooper kicked his second penalty-goal for Queensland’s only points of the half to put his side 15 points ahead of last season’s finalists with seven minutes to play.
The five competition points took the Reds to within one point of the ACT Brumbies in the Australian conference, with the Brumbies getting four points from a weekend bye.
It was the injury-hit Sharks’ fifth straight loss and left them 12 points behind South African conference leaders the Northern Bulls.
Queensland’s stylish win followed two grinding draws against the Brumbies and Western Force, and a hard-fought 12-11 win over the Auckland Blues.
The Sharks are to go on to Perth and play Western Force on Friday, while the Reds begin their two-match tour of South Africa against the Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
CHIEFS 22, FORCE 21
The Chiefs held on grimly against a gallant Western Force to win a grinding contest 22-21 in slippery conditions yesterday in Pukekohe, New Zealand.
The Chiefs led by 10 points after Aaron Cruden slotted his fifth penalty-goal three minutes into the second half, but the defending champions were scoreless thereafter as the Force staged a late rally.
Force winger Pat Dellit scored a brace of tries, his second bringing the Perth-based team within a point early in the final quarter, but the Australians went a man down for the last 10 minutes and were unable to conjure up a winning score.
The victory gave the Chiefs breathing space at the top of the New Zealand conference with seven rounds left in the southern hemisphere competition, but left their captain Craig Clarke slightly disappointed.
“It’s a win. Pretty frustrating,” the lock said. “Again we’ve made a few errors. I know it’s wet, but it’s pretty disappointing.”
The narrow loss was further heartbreak for the Force, who have managed only two wins and a draw this season, despite being competitive in most of their matches.
The Perth strugglers made the brighter start, with Dellit touching down in the fourth minute after kicking forward a loose ball off the ground and collecting it after a quick sprint to the line.
Big Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick set up his team’s sole try in the 16th minute, dishing off to winger Lelia Masaga, who shrugged off a couple of tackles before crossing in the right corner.