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The St.George Queensland Reds score four to one as they commence their 2012 campaign with a commanding 27-20 preseason victory over the ACT Brumbies in Cairns.
The Reds were forced to work hard infront of a passionate and vocal Barlow Park crowd although it was tries to Ben Tapuai, Chris Feauai-Sautia, James Horwill and Digby Ioane that saw the Queenslanders begin their pursuit of back-to-back titles in style.
Tapuai and Sautia crossed the paint in the opening half to give the Reds a handy 17-12 lead before tries to Horwill and Ioane in the second 40 minutes iced the win.
The Reds defensive efforts proved a major asset throughout the encounter, giving up just one try to Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper, with the efforts at scrum time and the goal kicking of flyhalf Mike Harris, who converted all three attempts including two from the sideline, equally impressive.
Reds flyer Digby Ioane was a standout after being injected into the match following halftime, as was centre Ben Tapuai and Sautia, who was impressive playing on the wing during the first half before moving to outside centre following a hamstring injury to flyer Aidan Toua.
“I thought our Wallabies were quite impressive,” coach Ewen McKenzie said.
“At crucial moments they made things happen and that is what you want from those that have played at a National level.
“The match was a good hitout and we got to try different things. Some of the young guys stood up which was great. You’ve got to take your moments and it’s something we did well last year and again tonight.
“We can now stop talking about last year and start talking about this year in terms of what we are doing. We can really start getting into the analytical side and looking at our tactics heading into New South Wales.
Horwill said he was thrilled to see such a large turnout of fans with the Cairns community throwing their support behind the team.
“The trip has been great. Last year was great and this year has been great,” Horwill said.
“The team loves playing up here in North Queensland. We really enjoy it and hopefully we get more opportunities to come up.”
The Reds enjoyed a dream start to their 2012 campaign when centre Ben Tapuai crossed in the opening minute from a charge-down, giving the reigning Super Rugby champions a 7-0 buffer following Mike Harris’ conversion.
A spade of penalties in the opening 10 minutes saw the Brumbies cement themselves inside Reds territory although a penalty goal to scrumhalf Nic White was all that was managed before Mike Harris returned the lead back to seven with a sideline penalty attempt.
Scrumhalf Nick Frisby brought a vocal Cairns crowd to their feet when he sparked a scintillating attacking movement that ended with Sautia scoring his first try in the Reds colours.
Frisby quickened up the game by opting for a quick tap from a midfield penalty before breaking the line on the ensuing ruck to see Sautia cross in the corner.
Penalties continued to flow in the Brumbies favour and four Nic White penalty goals in the opening 40 minutes allowed the Brumbies to remain in-reach with the score 17-12 at halftime.
The Reds injected numerous big-name Wallabies into the mix after the break with captain James Horwill and vice-captain Will Genia entering the fray while Ben Lucas was injected to flyhalf.
It didn’t take long for their impact to be felt with Horwill on the end of a nicely timed short pass from Genia before powering over the line.
A try to Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper and penalty goal to Zac Holmes narrowed the margin to two until Digby Ioane brought the crowd to their feet with a try deep inside the second half.
Fullback Luke Morahan kicked ahead a bouncing ball before forcing an error from the Brumbies just metres from their line that allowed Ioane to pounce for the five-pointer.
The Reds membership count continues to near the 30,000 target with only 3,804 more members needed in only 15 days until the season kicks off against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.
Membership starts at just $65 and includes a special edition members-only DVD of the 2011 Super Rugby Final, which is unavailable for retail purchase and contains never-before seen footage, and a 126-page 2012 season guide.
For more information visit http://www.redsrugby.com.au/MembershipHospitality/2012Memberships.aspx or call the Reds membership team on 1300 733 899.
St.George Queensland Reds 27 (Ben Tapuai, Chris Feauai-Sautia, James Horwill, Digby Ioane tries, Mike Harris 2 cons, pen) def Brumbies 20 (Michael Hooper try, Nic White 4, Zac Holmes pens)
16 FEBRUARY 2019