Quade Cooper pivotal for winning Reds
March 23, 2013
Quade Cooper played a vital hand for the Reds
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Queensland Reds have bounced back from the shock defeat by Western Force to claim a battling victory against the Bulls at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the hosts just maintaining their undefeated home record against the South African side despite an error-strewn performance.
Quade Cooper was pivotal to the success that marked the return of James Horwill, the Reds captain making a 40-minute cameo after his long absence due to knee and ankle injuries; the fly-half endured a mixed night with the boot, missing two of five penalty goals, but he was integral in the two tries that decided the result.
Cooper combined with halves partner Will Genia on multiple occasions in the first-half try-scoring move capped by Jono Lance, and he scored the second-half try that regained the lead and settled Reds nerves after Louis Fouche had kicked the Bulls into a 15-13 advantage.
Cooper also made what might have been a match-saving tackle on Zane Kirchner after the final siren as the Bulls attacked to claim a try that would have levelled the scores.
The Bulls thought they had got that try when JJ Englebrecht rouched down in the left corner to cap another flowing attack, but television reviews showed the winger had clipped the touchline in his final stride before crossing the tryline.
Queensland just got the better of an arm-wrestle against the Bulls (video available only in Australia)%]
The match was otherwise notable for the two yellow cards dished out by referee James Leckie for lifting tackles. Lance was yellow-carded for his tackle on Bulls second-rower Grant Hattingh in the 11th minute, and Bulls \winger Lionel Mapoe was also given a 10-minute rest for lifting Reds prop James Slipper above the horizontal.
Horwill paid tribute to the Reds forwards for "laying a bit of a platform" for Genia and Cooper to weave their magic. "Previously we've been a bit slack at the breakdown," Horwill said. "You saw what Will and Quade can do when they get a bit of time and space."
But he lamented a lack of discipline in the second half, as the Bulls fought back. "We probably did some things we spoke at half-time that we shouldn't do, like giving them back points, giving them easy penalties that got them back in the game," he said. "There's a lot to do, and we almost shot ourselves in the foot."
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said: "Credit to the Reds ... they were hungry for the win. There were a lot of positives in the game: the defence on our line, and also the way we came back; we got the bonus point at the end, there."
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