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McKenzie proud of Reds after battling to the top

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie taking it game by game now

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Article Published: Saturday 14 July 2012|

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie says he is proud of his team after they battled their way back into Super Rugby to win the Australian Conference after a shaky start to the season.

The Reds beat the Waratahs and went to the top of the Australian Conference so they will host a home Super Rugby Qualifying Final.

In front of an Australian Super Rugby season high crowd of 41,533, the Reds reached the four try mark with 29 minutes to play when winger Dom Shipperley found the chalk in the 51st minute to record his eight try of the year.

Charging with a full head of steam into the finals with six straight wins to their credit, the Reds will have to wait for the results of the rest of Saturday and Sunday's regular competition to learn who they will host at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday 21 July.

"Since round four of the competition we've been fighting to stay in finals contention so I'm really proud of the players and staff and the organisation," coach Ewen McKenzie said.

"We've stuck to the task, hung in there, finding ways to overcome situations. We never really complained much and just got on with it."

"The six from six (matches) scenario was pretty dire but the guys took that on and worked their way through that, and even tonight with the four try scenario, we handled that really well during the week.

"We had no plan about the four tries as we said, we just figured if we did enough good things it would arrive."

"I was really pleased with the concentration and aptitude of the playing group who were able to stick to the task and get the job done.

"We're in finals now which we were chasing from the start of the competition. Now it's a different scenario. We'll go week-to-week and get that right."

It was a memorable evening for the Reds and even more so for prop Ben Daley who ensured his milestone 50th game for Queensland was one to remember with the Reds also retaining the Templeton Cup.

The win was the second straight year the Reds have won the Australian Conference and means they end their regular season with seven victories from eight games against Australian rivals.

"Tonight was about playing a good game across the 80 minutes. That was very much a focus and we felt if we did that, we would get the four tries," captain Will Genia said.

"We are lucky we did that and it gives us the opportunity to push forward in the competition from next week."

Reds flanker Scott Higginbotham gave the defending champions the start they were looking for when he capitalised on an error during the Waratahs line out, cleaning up scrappy ball and diving over in the corner in just the third minute.

With scores 7-3 in the 13th minute, the Reds showed their intent and refused a kickable penalty.

Shipperley again proved a saviour for the Reds, pulling off a try saving effort to knock the ball from Waratahs flanker Chris Alcock, successfully kicking the ball from his grasp just before he had the opportunity to ground it.

Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan was sent to the bin in the 23rd minute after repeated infringements defending his own line however the Reds forwards broke through just a minute later with Reds flanker Liam Gill crossing the line to give the home side a 12-3 advantage.

The visitors hit back through a try to 100 gamer Drew Mitchell and then a long-range drop goal to fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper to bring scores back to 12-11, which it would remain until halftime.

After the break, the Reds capitalised on another error from the NSW lineout, with prop James Slipper cleaning up the scraps to dive over in the 44th minute. It was Slipper's second try in as many weeks and his third for the season.

Shipperley crossed for the all-important four-try bonus point, before man of the match Will Genia touched down in the 55th minute to seal the Reds emphatic victory and retain the Templeton Cup.

Quade Cooper was shown a yellow card in the 62nd minute and has been cited for a tackle on opposite flyhalf Berrick Barnes.

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