Reds win ugly in Sydney
July 13, 2013
Quade Cooper was the centre of attention at ANZ Stadium with Reds coach Ewen McKenzie having claimed the Wallabies job
© Getty Images
Quade Cooper delivered a typically mixed bag for Queensland Reds against New South Wales Waratahs, but his first-half try assist for Ben Lucas and three penalty goals ultimately were enough for the visitors to retain the Bob Templeton Cup with a 14-12 win at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
The Reds, missing Wallabies captain James Horwill and scrum-half general Will Genia, trailed 12-8 at the break but two penalty goals from Cooper in the second half were enough to secure the competition points. They now face the Crusaders in a knockout semi-final at AMI Stadium in Christcurch next Saturday night, but they must improve dramatically on their unconvincing performance in Sydney if they are to trouble the seven-time Super Rugby champions as they chase their second title in three years. They might also be without Rod Davies after the winger sustained what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the second half.
The 26,037 diehard fans who ventured to ANZ Stadium hoping to see the Waratahs sign off their campaign in style, or to see the Reds play in the "Australian way" espoused by Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver after appointing Ewen McKenzie as Wallabies coach, were forced to sit through a howler of a second half punctuated by handling errors.
In a comical finish, the Waratahs had the chance to steal victory after the siren but they botched a gilt-edged field-goal chance. Instead of setting up five-eighth Bernard Foley right in front of the sticks, Berrick Barnes was left to fluff a shot with his unfavoured left foot. Playing his last match for the Waratahs, Japan-bound Barnes three minutes earlier also missed a penalty goal attempt that would have won the match for the Waratahs. All up, Barnes and halfback Brendan McKibbin landed just one goal from five attempts for the Waratahs, providing a snapshot of NSW's season of near-misses.
Queensland Reds disappointed in the style of their play but did enough to get the points (video available only in Australia)
Queensland were already assured a place in the semi-finals, and the Waratahs were out of the play-offs picture, but still there was plenty on the line in the interstate derby with players from both sides seeking to impress the Reds' newly appointed Wallabies coach, McKenzie, before the Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in August that opens the Rugby Championship.
Queensland opened the scoring with a ninth-minute Cooper penalty but the Waratahs struck back immediately with a try under the posts from Cam Crawford, who powered onto an inside ball from McKibbin, beat Greg Holmes and carried two defenders over the line with him. McKibbin converted to give the Waratahs a 7-3 advantage.
Cooper put the Reds back in front 8-7 with a lovely two-man cut-out pass for Lucas to dive over in the 20th minute, but he handed the lead back to the Waratahs when McKibbin intercepted his inside ball for Davies and raced 40 metres before Barnes loomed up to score out wide. Barnes' try was a bonus for the Tahs, who were a man down after New Zealand referee Steve Walsh had over-reacted to John Ulugia's strong, but legal, tackle on Davies and sent the hooker to the sin-bin.
Cam Crawford grabbed the first try of the night © Getty Images
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September