Queensland scored a bonus point victory over the visiting Cheetahs on Friday in a high scoring but sloppy game at Suncorp Stadium. For a dozen minutes it was pandemonium with each side throwing caution to the wind resulting in two tries apiece. It was breathtaking action but not exactly top drawer with both teams reluctant to play defense.
As the quarter came to a close the game calmed down but the Cheetahs looked worse for wear and after Quade Cooper and Johan Goosen had exchanged penalties, the Reds started to break away with two quick tries before the half. James Hanson’s try, while impressive from the hooker, was very soft defense along the touchline. Goosen added a penalty but his side looked desperately short of enthusiasm.
The second half was dominated by the home side, with Chris Feauai-Sautia over for what should have been his third touchdown of the match had the referee correctly awarded him the first instead of a penalty try. Goosen and Cooper managed a couple penalty goals each and with ten minutes to go it should have been over but some tired defense allowed Elgar Watts to score a seven pointer and it was game on once more.
After winning a penalty virtually in front of the sticks, Nick Frisby made a brainless decision to take a quick tap and the Reds turned it over giving the Cheetahs another shot. His captain James Horwill gave him an earful and then bailed him out by winning a turnover in the ensuing breakout. The visitors were robbed of a bonus point by referee Garratt Williamson, who ruled against them despite being in perfect position to see James Slipper’s clear as daylight collapsing of the scrum. Cooper’s kick sailed through to bring the match to an unsatisfactory finish.
Maybe it was the flight, or the hoodoo of never winning in Brisbane before, or possibly the absence of Raymond Rhule and Coenie Oosthuizen, but the Free State side looked well off the pace for much of it. Willie le Roux is wasted on the wing and Hennie Daniller offers next to nothing in attack from the back. Lappies Labuschagne has had a very quiet opening to the season and maybe Jean Cook deserves a chance in the run-on side. Shaun Venter is reasonably steady at scrumhalf but doesn’t seem to do anything exceptionally well.
The Reds will be very happy with Feauai-Sautia who looks full of running and gets better every game. Will Genia is off to a slow start this season, though Cooper is looking reasonably sharp if he can just pull back a bit on his penchant for flat passes, at least three of which were forward during the match. Rob Simmons is getting around the pitch but still takes too many dumb penalties, and both Eddie Quirk and Jake Schatz have to up their impact from the back row if their team are to have a hope of finishing anywhere near a quarter final spot.
REDS 43 vs 33 CHEETAHS
Friday, March 7, 08:40 GMT, Brisbane
02 mins – Reds penalty try 5-0
02 mins – Q. Cooper con 7-0
04 mins – F. Venter try 7-5
05 mins – J. Goosen con 7-7
09 mins – B. Prinsloo try 7-12
10 mins – J. Goosen con 7-14
11 mins – R. Davies try 12-14
12 mins – Q. Cooper con 14-14
22 mins – Q. Cooper pen 17-14
26 mins – J. Goosen pen 17-17
35 mins – C. Feauai-Sautia try 22-17
39 mins – J. Goosen 22-20
40 mins – J. Hanson try 27-20
40 mins – Q. Cooper con 29-20
49 mins – J. Goosen pen 29-23
54 mins – C. Feauai-Sautia try 34-23
59 mins – J. Goosen pen 34-26
65 mins – Q. Cooper pen 37-26
70 mins – Q. Cooper pen 40-26
73 mins – E. Watts try 40-31
74 mins – E. Watts con 40-33
80 mins – Q. Cooper pen 43-33
02 mins – R. Benjamin yellow (professional foul)
A. Toua; R. Davies, C. Feauai-Sautia (B. Tapua’i 60), B. Harris, D. Shipperley; Q. Cooper, W. Genia (N. Frisby 71); B. Daley (J. Owen 70), J. Hanson (S. Fainga’a 55), G. Holmes (J. Slipper 46); R. Simmons (E. O’Donoghue 67), J. Horwill (capt.); E. Quirk (E. O’Donoghue 32-HT), L. Gill (B. Robinson 29), J. Schatz.
H. Daniller; R. Benjamin (C. Hendricks 36-HT, 60), J. Sadie, F. Venter, W. le Roux; J. Goosen (E. Watts HT-44, 61), S. Venter (S. Pretorius 46); Ca. Oosthuizen (T. Nyakane 50), A. Strauss (capt.), M. van Dyk (R. de Klerk 71); L. de Jager, F. Uys; B. Prinsloo (L. Landman 79), L. Labuschagne (J. Cook 25-32, 60), P. van der Walt.
Referee: G. Williamson (NZRU)
Assistants: A. Gardiner (ARU) & M. O’Brien (ARU)
TMO: S. Leszczynski (ARU)