Super Rugby


St.George Queensland Reds beat Lions in afternoon Rugby at Suncorp Stadium

The St.George Queensland Reds have returned to winning ways with a 27-22 victory over the second-placed Lions in a thrilling afternoon fixture at Suncorp Stadium.

The Reds came out flying, with a dominant first 40 minutes giving them a 24-0 lead at half time and setting up the upset win over last year’s Super Rugby finalists.

The home side weathered the storm in the second half, starved of possession and forced to defend for long periods of time. 

Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “It’s a great result. I’m pretty proud of the guys. 

“The Lions are a good side, so it was always going to be a challenge and we expected them to fight back in the second half.  

“We’re not an 80-minute team yet, but it’s a win and it was an outstanding first half from the team and we continued to fight in the second half.

“We continue to be a work in progress. We had nine guys in the side that are 21 or under tonight. We’re bringing the youth through and they’ll learn a lot from that experience.”

The match also saw youngsters Jordan Petaia and Hamish Stewart make their run-on debuts, while prop Harry Hoopert took the field in the 77th minute to earn his Super Rugby debut as Queensland Representative Number 1330.

“What a great experience for those young men to achieve those milestones with a win in front of their friends and family and our home fans,” Thorn said.

The Reds had the perfect start to the match, forcing a turnover in defence and turning the Lions around with a kick in behind from stand-in skipper Samu Kerevi. 

His centre partner Chris Feauai-Sautia put enormous pressure on Lions winger Madosh Tambwe, forcing a five-metre lineout to the Reds. 

The Reds mauled from the lineout and marched over, with prop JP Smith touching down for the first score and a 5-0 lead.

The home side hit back again five minutes later, with defence again proving key, as they put the Lions under pressure before Number 8 Caleb Timu snatched an intercept and ran 40 metres to push his side’s lead to 10-0.

The Reds extended their lead in the 28th minute when Stewart, in his first Super Rugby start, took the ball to the line and found space, darting 40 metres downfield before being dragged down five metres short. 

The Reds shifted the ball quickly, with Timu picking from the base of the ruck and spilling the ball, before hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa scooped it up and dived over the line. Winger Filipo Daugunu kicked the conversion and the Reds led 17-0. 

Queensland entered the half time break with another score, after their focus on field position and fierce defence set up another opportunity. 

After forcing a turnover, the Reds kicked ahead with Feauai-Sautia tackling the Lions’ last defender into his in-goal to set up a five-metre scrum. 

The Reds marched the ensuing scrum forward and evergreen flanker George Smith cleaned up a loose ball at the back to score. Daugunu kicked the conversion and the Reds entered the break up 24-0.

The Reds were limited to a single penalty goal to Daugunu in the second half, but it proved a crucial decision in the context of the game, as the Lions staged an impressive fight back, with hooker Malcolm Marx and replacement Marnus Schoeman notching doubles to close the gap to just five points in the closing stages.

The Reds have the bye next week before heading to Tokyo in Round 13 to take on the Sunwolves at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in another afternoon fixture on Saturday 12 May at 1:05pm AEST.

St.George Queensland Reds 27 (JP Smith, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Caleb Timu, George Smith tries; Filipo Daugunu 2 conversions; Daugunu 1 penalty goal) defeated Lions 22 (Malcolm Marx 2, Marnus Schoeman 2 tries; Elton Jantjes 1 conversion) at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 28 April 2018.

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