Super Rugby


3/27/2010

QR Reds open South African tour with 31-10 win


The QR Reds got their South African tour off to a winning start with a 31-10 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

It was the first time the Reds have won three Super Rugby games in a row since 2004 and their first win in South Africa since 2006.

Despite losing flyhalf Quade Cooper to a yellow card late in the first half, the Reds held on to lead 11-10 at halftime and then scored two second half tries to secure the win.

Man of the match Will Genia led his team from the front with a sharp first half try scored with strength and guile when he dummied through the defensive line in only the 11th minute.

He also kicked a penalty goal when Cooper was off the field for tripping an opponent.

Cooper made amends by kicking five straight goals after two early misses, while the Reds' other tries came from Peter Hynes and Digby Ioane.

Hynes' try came six minutes into the second half when he took a quick tap from a penalty and shrugged off four tackles to dive over under the posts.

Ioane scored in the 78th minute, using his strength to ground the ball despite desperate defence on the line, denying the Cheetahs any chance of a bonus point.

Heavy rain before the game made the going heavy under foot and appeared to contribute to an excess number of handling errors on both sides.

Despite making inroads through the Cheetahs' defence, several unforced errors by the Reds kept the Cheetahs in the game when it could have been closed out a lot earlier.

The Cheetahs had suffered a late blow when flanker Juan Smith withdrew because his father was seriously ill, however they battled on gamely and refused to give in even when the game was lost.

Genia was all smiles after the match, knowing his team had cleared the first hurdle on their tour and can work on getting into their rhythm for the remaining two matches, against the Sharks and Lions.

"The best thing was we created opportunities. I guess we capitalised on a few, but didn't manage to capitalise on a few (other) linebreaks we made. But it's a perfect way to start the tour," Genia said.

"Winning's always good and we want to be as consistent as possible. That's three in a row for us so well done to the boys on a great effort."

Genia said a Cheetahs' try when Cooper was off the field gave the home side momentum after the Reds had started the stronger of the two.

"I think we were under the pump a little, they are a very good side and they kept it tight and they sort of had us on the back heel a bit," Genia said.

"But once we got that try (three minutes into the second half) we knew we could do it.

"We wanted to stay tight and really suck them in and then created those opportunities out wide.

"I guess when they came we did make most of them."

Head Coach Ewen McKenzie said while the Reds didn't achieve the perfection he demands, the wet and slippery conditions contributed to that.

"It's been dry all week and then the day of the game it chose to rain all day and the ball was wet the whole game. We tried to play rugby but we were frustrated in our execution.

"But if you'd asked me in January if I'd take a 30 point win in South Africa, you'd take it every time.

"We've got four wins under our belt and have broken some undesirable records - first time for three wins in a row and winning in South Africa and so on - so we're moving along. Not perfectly but we're moving."

Prop Greg Holmes earned his 50th cap for Queensland when he came on as second half replacement for Ben Daley.

Daley was forced to return at the 60m mark when tighthead prop Laurie Weeks came off with a corked thigh.

"We didn't take any risks with him (Weeks) and iced him up quickly, so he should be right for next week," McKenzie said.

There were no other injury concerns. Flanker Daniel Braid (knee) is expected to be fit to make his return next week against the Sharks.

The win over the Cheetahs earned three goats for Oxfam's African relief program under the Reds' "Goats for Africa" initiative, in which they will donate one farm goat for every try scored. Unfortunately they missed out on a "bonus goat", even though the Reds kept looking for the fourth try right until the final whistle.

QR Reds 31 (Will Genia, Peter Hynes, Digby Ioane tries Quade Cooper 2 cons Cooper 3, Genia pens) bt Cheetahs 10 (Ashley Johnson try Naas Olivier con Meyer Bosman pen) in Bloemfontein

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