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The St.George Queensland Reds claim their second straight FxPro Super Rugby win over an Australian Conference rival to continue their perfect start to 2012 with a hard-fought 35-20 victory against the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The Reds backed up last week’s nine-year drought breaking success against the Waratahs in Sydney with a strong 35-point effort in their season-opening encounter played in front of 33,563 supporters who braved the wet and windy conditions.
The Reds were fastest out of the blocks and held a 26-6 halftime lead courtesy of five-pointers to Ben Tapuai and Radike Samo before two quick tries to the Force early in the second stanza brought the deficit back to six with 25 minutes remaining.
Cult figure Samo was the beneficiary a misdirected pass to streak away 60 metres while Tapuai showed some individual brilliance to beat multiple defenders down the left flank in scoring the opening try of the game.
“It’s always good to win. There are things we need to get better at but anytime you come out and score 35 points is a nice feeling, especially at home,” captain James Horwill said.
Flyhalf Mike Harris was a standout and continued his immaculate form with the boot to kick nine from nine in a display that takes his career kicking tally to a perfect 24 from 24 in FxPro Super Rugby.
“We have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a natural goal kicker so when he’s lining them up you pretty much stand out of the 22 based on how he has been hitting them,” vice-captain Will Genia said.
“It’s very reassuring to have a good kicker because you’re pretty much guaranteed three points and you just keep building the lead and putting pressure on the scoreboard."
Genia was responsible for setting up the Reds first try when he flicked a tricky pass round the back to outside centre Tapuai, who dived over in the corner in the 19th minute.
After opening the scoring with a relatively simple penalty, Mike Harris nailed a tough sideline conversion to push the Reds out to a 10-0 lead.
Tries to Samo and Tapuai in the opening 40 minutes put the Reds in the box seat although the Force took advantage of the Reds tiring defence to fight back to 26-20 before the Reds pushed ahead and powered home for another strong win.
“This is the best start we’ve had in the last two years as we’d already lost a game by this stage in the last two seasons,” coach Ewen McKenzie said.
“Our defence, apart from 10 minutes tonight, has been good and we are getting on the right side of the scoreboard. Tonight we changed tactics in a big game and we handled it well. That ability is a good one to have.”
The Reds will now turn their attention to the Western Force next Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium.
Full season memberships are still available and are a cheaper alternative to individual match tickets and start at just $65, which 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.
Full 2012 membership information can be found here - http://www.redsrugby.com.au/MembershipHospitality/2012Memberships.aspx.
St.George Queensland Reds 35 (Ben Tapuai, Radike Samo tries; Mike Harris 2 cons, 7 pens) def Western Force 20 (David Pocock, James Stannard tries; James Stannard 2 cons, 2 pens)
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