Queensland Super Rugby franchise the Reds ended a six match losing streak by thumping South Africa’s Southern Kings 47-34 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Reds playmaker Quade Cooper became the first Queensland player to break the 800 point barrier during a match in which George Smith won his 150th Super Rugby cap.
The victory provisionally moves the Reds to second in the Australian conference.
The Reds lead by four points at half time and went out to a thirty point lead at 47-17 before the Kings came back with a late charge.
The Southern Kings scored three late tries in eight minutes which cost the Reds the bonus point even though they outscored the Kings by seven tries to five.
Twenty four points were scored in the first half and 57 points in an entertaining second half.
The match was the first time that the Reds had met South Africa’s Southern Kings and both teams took advantage of the 3:00pm kick off, showing an intention to play expansively.
Karmichael Hunt, Eto Nabuli and Izaia Perese all crossed for doubles as the Reds ran in seven tries to five.
The Reds were handed a yellow card on the cusp of half time but showed composure to score two tries in that 10-minute period.
With Alex Mafi making his starting debut at hooker, the Reds won the set-piece battle, forcing the Southern Kings into three penalties at scrum time.
Five minutes into the match the Reds won a scrum against the head, swung the ball wide to Eto Nabuli who crossed for the first try of the match.
The Kings levelled the scores in the 23rd minute when Chris Cloete touched down, 7-7.
James Tuttle hit Hunt with a short ball and the fullback crashed over the line to give the Reds a seven-point lead.
Kings flyhalf Lionel Cronje made it a four-point game slotting a penalty goal after Duncan Paia’aua was sent to the sin bin for a late tackle.
The teams hit the sheds with the Reds leading 14-10.
Straight after half time the Reds secured clean lineout ball and Smith and Scott Higginbotham combined with some crisp passing as Smith crashed over.
Nabuli claimed his double in the 48th minute to extend the Reds’ lead to 16 points but Louis Schreuder reduced that lead to 11 shortly after.
Cooper dabbed a perfectly weighted grubber kick in behind the Kings’ defensive line and Hunt swooped for his second try. Cooper’s successful conversion brought up his 800th Super Rugby point, a first for any Reds player and only the third Australian player to reach the milestone.
Cooper threw a cut-out ball to Hunt who straightened and drew the last man to put Izaia Perese over for his first Super Rugby try.
Moments later Cooper and Hunt combined again when the flyhalf delivered a pin-point cross field kick to unleash Hunt from inside the Reds own 22. Hunt passed the ball to a flying Perese who raced 50 metres to score.
The Kings scored three quick tries after the 67th minute reducing the Reds lead to 13 points before the final whistle.
Next week the Reds have a bye while the Southern Kings travel to Sydney where they will play the Waratahs.
Final Score Reds 47 (14) Southern Kings 34 (10)
Tries -E.Nabuli 2, K.Hunt, G.Smith, K.Hunt, I.Perese 2
Con – Q.Cooper 5
Cards – D.Paia’aua (37th min yellow)
Tries – C.Cloete, L.Schreuder, M.Mapimpi 2, M.Banda
Pen – L.Cronje
Con – L.Cronje 2 P.de Wet
Cards – W.Mjekevu (68th min yellow)
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Ref 1:Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2:Damon Murphy
TMO : Damien Mitchelmore
1. Sef Fa’agase , 2. Alex Mafi,(run-on debut) 3. Sam Talakai, 4. Rob Simmons , 5. Lukhan Tui , 6. Hendrik Tui , 7. George Smith ,(150th Super Rugby cap) 8. Scott Higginbotham , 9. James Tuttle, 10. Quade Cooper , 11. Eto Nabuli , 12. Duncan Paia’aua , 13. Samu Kerevi (C) , 14. Izaia Perese, 15. Karmichael Hunt
Replacements : 16. Andrew Ready , 17. Kirwan Sanday, 18. Taniela Tupou , 19. Kane Douglas , 20. Adam Korczyk , 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Hamish Stewart , 23. Chris Kuridrani
15. Masixole Banda, 14. Yaw Penxe, 13. Berton Klaasen ,12. Luzuko Vulindlu, 11. Makazole Mapimpi ,10. Lionel Cronje (c) ,9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Ruaan Lerm ,7. Tyler Paul , 6. Chris Cloete ,5. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4. Mzwanele Zito ,3. Justin Forwood ,2. Michael Willemse ,1. Chris Heiberg ,
Replacements :16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Irne Herbst, 20. Andisa Ntsila, 21. Johan Steyn, 22. Wandile Mjekevu, 23. Pieter-Steyn de Wet.