Cooper finds perfect response to Wallabies snub
April 13, 2013
Quade Cooper impressed in the Reds' win over the Chiefs © Getty Images
Quade Cooper responded to his ommission from Australia's upcoming training camp by leading the Reds to a 31-23 victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The fly-half, along with half-back partner Will Genia, pulled the strings behind a dominant Reds pack. He kicked for territory cleverly, scored 16 points and deceived his opponents, most notably when he stepped inside Chiefs counterpart Aaron Cruden to score the Reds' third try early in the second half. Winger Rod Davies touched down twice while Jake Schatz also touched down for the Reds, but it was Cooper who grabbed the headlines following his snub by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
"He's been improving week to week," Reds captain James Horwill said of Cooper. "And Willy and him have got a really good combination together. They direct us round the park really well. It was a big effort by both of them, and the boys up front also did a pretty good job to lay the platform for us."
The Highlanders' disastrous start to the season continued as they slumped to their seventh consecutive loss after going down 30-19 to the Brumbies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night. In front of a subdued local crowd of 11,835, the Brumbies produced an error-free and organised performance while defensive lapses proved particularly costly for the Highlanders in the first hour. The Brumbies were well-drilled and patient and scored three tries through Henry Speight, George Smith and Joe Tomane to achieve their sixth victory of the campaign and cement their place at the top of the Australian conference and the overall standings.
The Blues got their season back on track when they outclassed the Hurricanes 28-6 at Eden Park in Auckland with a bonus-point victory. The Hurricanes went into the match on the back of a four-match winning streak but were demolished by the Blues who have now secured back-to-back wins after beating the Highlanders last weekend. The Blues scored four tries through Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, James Parsons and Tom McCartney with Chris Noakes booting all four conversions. The result moves the Blues into the top six in the overall standings while the Hurricanes look set to drop out of the top six.
Elsewhere, Demetri Catrakilis slotted a drop goal after the siren as the Southern Kings scored a dramatic maiden 30-27 win on Australian soil against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park. The Port Elizabeth-based Kings overturned a 10-point deficit late in the game to claim their breakthrough victory. The Rebels dominated possession for lengthy periods but were unable to claim a first win over a South African team. After a 28-28 draw against the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend, the Kings seemed set to again share the spoils, only for Catrakilis to coolly convert a sharp opportunity from close-range well over two minutes past the siren.
A try from Sam Norton-Knight and a solid goal-kicking performance from Jayden Hayward steered Western Force to a thrilling upset 16-14 win over the Crusaders. A strong start gave the Force a 16-8 half-time lead showed great resilience to keep their line intact and secure their second victory over the men from Christchurch - and to secure their first win at nib Stadium this season.
A perfect kicking display from Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen kept his side's hopes alive with a 17-point haul carrying his side to a 22-15 victory over the Sharks at Newlands. His boot and a try from centre Juan de Jongh gave the hosts a 16-6 lead at the break and they would hold on for their third victory of the season that keeps the pressure on their South African conference rivals.
However, they remain in fourth place thanks to the Bulls who ended a three-game losing streak with 26-20 victory over the Cheetahs in Pretoria. The in-form Cheetahs, who entered the game in the back of a five-game unbeaten run, led 9-6 at the break thanks to three penalties from Burton Francis but the Bulls took control of the contest with a try from Jano Vermaak early in the second half. The boot of Morne Steyn gave them a little more breathing space before a try from prop Trevor Nyakane brought the Cheetahs back to within striking range. The Bulls soon replied through replacement Callie Visagie with the Cheetahs having to settle for a losing bonus point.
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