Genia, Cooper sparkle against Chiefs
April 13, 2013
Quade Cooper may have answered some of his critics with a strong performance in Hamilton
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Queensland Reds produced a stunning defensive display to overpower the Chiefs in Hamilton, with Quade Cooper providing an attacking spark to suggest he remains the Wallabies' No.1 fly-half despite his omission from the coming logistics camp in Sydney.
Wallabies half-back Will Genia pulled the strings brilliantly behind a dominant Reds pack, with Cooper also influential in providing a telling response to Australia coach Robbie Deans. Waikato-born Cooper 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.
"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 Chiefs created, arguably, the greater opportunities in the first half only to be let down by poor handling against resolute defence within the opposition 22. The Chiefs' midfield pairing of Bundee Aki and Richard Kahui produced a strong performance, but the hosts were unable to break down a resilient Reds outfit who are starting to kick into gear.
The Reds impressed with a powerful performance (video available only in Australia)
The Reds improved to 14-4 their win-loss record against New Zealand teams under Ewen McKenzie; they are now unbeaten in four matches against the Chiefs since 2009, and they have won 11 of their past 12 matches against Kiwi opponents. The bonus-point wins sees them leap-frog the Chiefs into second place on the standings just two points behind the pace-sitting Brumbies.
"We really enjoy coming here and playing," Horwill said. "We think the Kiwi sides bring the best out of us, and certainly the Chiefs; every time we play them, we enjoy the game, the spectators enjoy the game, we always try to play a bit of footy."
Horwill paid tribute to the "effort and attitude" of his team, saying: "We pride ourselves on our scramble defence. The Chiefs have got some amazing ball runners and you saw when they get some ball they're very hard to stop. We had to scramble at times, in both halves, and ... that's our effort and attitude".
Chiefs captain Liam Messam said: "We're busting a lot of opportunities but just not finishing them off. We didn't deserve to win the game tonight. We've got great heart and great ticker, but sometimes that's not enough to win a footy game. There was opportunities but we were probably two steps too slow tonight."
Queensland, coming off narrow wins over the Bulls and the Highlanders, started superbly and they nearly crossed twice before winger Rod Davies bagged the first of his two tries on return from injury when he intercepted a loose Cruden pass. Bundee Aki struck back for the hosts, but Reds No. 8 Jake Schatz pushed his side to a 14-10 half-time lead when he drove over from a lineout. Cooper's try was followed by a second to Davies courtesy of a dazzling Genia cut-out pass down the blindside.
The Chiefs became desperate, and they finally snared a second try 15 minutes from full-time through impressive reserve winger Patrick Osborne after Reds centre Anthony Faingaa had been sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.