Reds on a roll as Cooper clash awaits
Former flame Quade Cooper can expect the hottest of receptions at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night now the Reds have suddenly found their mojo.
The Queenslanders revitalised their Super Rugby season with a soaring 36-14 victory over the Brumbies which has created the momentum of back-to-back wins.
It was literally the red-hot Reds at times with a four-try second half statement that should add 5000 fans to the grandstands by the time Cooper, Will Genia and the Melbourne Rebels arrive at the same venue on Saturday.
The character-filled defence that repelled the Brumbies for 27 phases, virtually from the kick-off, stood up in enervating 33-degree Brisbane heat.
So much of what the Reds have talked about was the backbone of Sunday's win over their long-time bogey team.
The gritty defence forced chances and, finally, the Reds were good enough to score four of their five tries off turnovers.
They twice repelled the most vaunted rolling maul in Super Rugby, Izack Rodda stole a key lineout and when they had to find a clinical finish for a bonus point it came on full-time through hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa's try.
Finally, we saw a Reds player who could kick consistently because flyhalf Bryce Hegarty was superb in this area now it can be revealed he couldn't kick against the NSW Waratahs because of the pain from rib damage.
New backs coach Jim McKay has created a fresh mindset to attack and the two tries which broke open the game in a three-minute burst from 10-7 to 24-7 were both long-range beauties.
Centre captain Samu Kerevi has taken his game to a new level this season with extra skills and thinking beyond running 10 times for 115m.
It was his quick lineout throw and taking the return pass from Sefa Naivalu that set up the 75m team try for Chris Feauai-Sautia that squashed a Brumbies rally after half-time.
And an expert draw and pass got the Hegarty try rolling.
Defensive pressure forced a Pete Samu knock-on shortly after and halfback Tate McDermott was scooting 50m to score for the 13,566 roaring fans.
The Reds cured their slow start syndrome with a 10-0 jump by half-time and the Brumbies melted under the home side's superior physicality and the heat.
Coach Brad Thorn will say it's not about beating Cooper on Saturday but it is about beating the Rebels.
The Reds (10 points) can get even closer to the Waratahs (14), Rebels (13) and Brumbies (11) at the top of the Australian Conference with another win.
Brumbies prop James Slipper had a fine game against his former club, not just at scrum time but with a fine, diving catch-and-pass for the Henry Speight try just after half-time.
Veteran No. 8 Scott Higginbotham was influential and his twisting, surging first try was his 39th, extending his record as Super Rugby's top tryscoring forward.
Taniela Tupou will want all record of the final six minutes of the first half erased from the master tapes at Fox Sports.
He lost control of the ball in his giant right arm with the tryline looming when Brumbies backrower Pete Samu jolted his pick-and-go play in the 35th minute.
Another try went begging moments before half-time when the ball popped out of another loose left-arm carry from Tupou just 10m from the tryline after Kerevi had created the chance with a smart off-load.
Those missed chances came either side of Tupou conceding the latest penalty of a poor first half of scrummaging.
QUEENSLAND REDS 36 (Chris Feauai-Sautia, Bryce Hegarty, Scott Higginbotham, Tate McDermott, Brandon Paenga-Amosa tries Hegarty 4 cons pen) bt BRUMBIES 14 (Jahrome Brown, Henry Speight tries Christian Leali'ifano 2 cons) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Paul Williams