First-half spree sees Reds home over Sharks
May 10, 2013
Queensland's Saia Faingaa was put through a gap by a superb Quade Cooper pass
© Getty Images
The Queensland Reds inflicted a 32-17 defeat on a hapless Sharks side thanks to a blistering first half attacking display at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
The Sharks slumped to their fifth straight loss with an error-strewn performance, while the Reds played their best rugby of the season in the opening 40 minutes to lead 29-3 at the interval.
The South Africans put in a much-improved showing in the second half, although they did not do enough to chase down the Reds' big lead.
Piet Lindeque scored early in the second term for the Sharks to raise hopes of a tighter contest, and Derick Minnie crossed with 15 minutes to go to ensure an element of tension in the closing stages, but in the end Queensland held on comfortably.
The Reds celebrate a sensational Rod Davies try that started well inside their own quarter (video available in Australia only)%]
The Reds' first try was created by their much-lauded halves combination, as Will Genia passed to Cooper and the fly-half threw a magnificent cut-out ball to Saia Faingaa who did the rest to cross under the posts.
Multiple phases for the Sharks eventually earned them a penalty right in front and Pat Lambie made no mistake to make the score 7-3 after 10 minutes.
The Reds then launched a spectacular team try from just in front of their own line, with the ball passing through the hands of Cooper, Chris F'Sautia, Digby Ioane and Will Genia until the scrum-half opted to kick low out to Davies wide on the right and the winger scooped up the ball to cross in the corner.
Cooper was the creator once again for the Reds' third try, sending a pinpoint pass to Anthony Faingaa who stepped around one tackle and touched down near the left corner flag.
A successful Cooper penalty kick from wide on the left after the Sharks infringed in the scrum extended Queensland's lead to 22-3 with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
A speculative Cooper kick from just outside the 22 was fielded by Keegan Daniel, but the number eight dallied on the ball and the Reds turned it over. From there it was a matter of completing two simple passes and Davies was able to waltz over for his second try.
Down 29-3 at half-time, the Sharks resurrected their hopes with a try straight after the break, as Lindeque launched himself over in the right corner after Lwazi Mvovo had made a darting run down the middle.
When Lawzi Mvovo picked up a Cooper fumble and raced 80 metres to touch down it looked as though a comeback might be on the cards, but the play was called back for a Sharks knock-on. Minnie peeled off a maul to scoot over for a second Sharks try with 15 minutes left, and Lambie's conversion brought the visitors within 12 points.
When Cooper nailed a penalty kick with eight minutes left, however, the Reds extended their lead beyond two converted tries and the pressure valve was released.
Genia was well pleased with the Reds' energy, intent and creativity in the first half after failing to break the shackles in attack in the past fortnight.
"We banned the pick and go at training this week," he said. "We wanted to express ourselves more with the ball."
But the Wallabies scrum-half rued his side's ill-discipline in the second half as the Sharks went back to basics and got on a roll.
"In that second half we gifted them a little bit too much possession through penalties," Genia said.
Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie felt a first-half display like that had been brewing for a while and was happy to have five points in the bag as they fly out for their two-match tour of South Africa this weekend.
Sharks coach John Plumtree lamented playing into Queensland's hands with a "terrible" first half that featured nine handling errors and 17 missed tackles.
"The more (turnover ball) they got, the more confident they got," Plumtree said. "There were some individuals there that let themselves down big time."
Runners-up last season, Plumtree admitted the Sharks' 2013 campaign was in ruins with their fifth straight loss.
"I think we're dead now," he said.