Super Rugby AU

O’Connor rescues Reds and ends Waratahs winless run

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The Reds beat the Waratahs 32-26 in the opening match of Super Rugby AU at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

James O’Connor stepped up with less than five minutes remaining and kicked the Reds to a hard-fought Super Rugby derby.

The Reds‘ victory ends a horrible 11-game losing run against their arch-rivals and ends a five-game losing streak against fellow Australian teams in Super Rugby.

It had been seven years since the last victory for Queensland over New South Wales in the Sunshine State going back to 2013.

Will Harrison kept a stubborn Waratahs in the game, slotting everything from the tee for a match-haul of 16 points.

It was not enough, however, because NSW could not get over the goal-line, finally being outscored four tries to two.

Bryce Hegarty’s boot almost cost his side the historic win, but O’Connor was cool and calm from the tee, doing what he does best – kicking winners.

Queensland dominates first-half as Waratahs set-piece crumbles.

Brad Thorn’s side dominated the first half, scoring three tries to one while also having two chalked off after TMO interventions.

Angus Bell was yellow carded before the half-hour for a series of scrum infringements.

The Reds scrum was dominant as Taniela Tupou tormented the 19-year-old loosehead.

Bell’s card, however, did not prove all that costly with Harrison kicking a couple of penalties to make it a six-point ball-game at the break.

Before lockdown for COVID-19, Queensland were Super Rugby’s top try-scorers with 32 tries from seven games.

Super Rugby AU Round 1 Video Highlights: Reds versus Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

They went about their business as if the season was never halted as Liam Wright, Filipo Daugunu and Tate McDermott crossed in the first stanza.

Wright and Tupou both had tries disallowed after review.

Harry Johnson-Holmes’ 10th-minute try and the trusty boot of the flawless Harrison kept the visitors in the contest.

Rob Penney’s side found their mojo only once they went a man down.

New South Wales began to string the phases together, cutting out the handling errors and infringements at the ruck.

Instead, it was the home team who started to struggle with the new laws.

Harrison kicked three penalties in quick succession either side of the break to chisel away at Queensland’s lead.

The second half was end to end as both sides traded blows.

Jack Maddocks’ well-timed angled run put the Waratahs in front for the first time in the game as the visitors scored 16 unanswered points to take a four-point lead with half-an-hour remaining.

Hegarty missed a long-range penalty before the hour mark as the hosts looked to get back into the game.

As was the case in Super Rugby Aotearoa, the teams struggled with the new laws around the breakdown.

At one stage in the first half, the penalty count was 9-2 in favour of the Reds, but as New South Wales got back in the match, the count was almost level at 10-9 early in the second half.

Harry Wilson dived over the whitewash to put his team back in the lead after a period of dominating territory and possession.

A second brain freeze from prop Tupou for “roughing the kicker” led to a sin-binning.

Tupou’s clumsy play allowed Harrison to kick his six successful kick and level the scores at 26-all with less than 12 minutes to play.

Penney’s team had started to get a foothold, even taking control in the third quarter. But their ill-discipline continued to haunt the Tahs.

Reds leave it late.

That and their creaking set-piece. They continued to fall foul of referee Nic Berry, especially at the breakdown.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 4 Preview

Hegarty missed his third kick at goal in the 71st-minute, but the Reds kept coming.

Despite being a man down, Thorn’s charges controlled possession and the territory as they searched for the win.

With five minutes to go, the Reds won a penalty.

Up stepped O’Connor, taking over kicking duties from the wayward Hegarty.

The veteran Wallaby made no mistake, giving the hosts a late lead.

As the clock ran down, the Reds slowed play down, won another penalty, and O’Connor landed the knock-out blow.

Final Score: Reds 32 (19) Waratahs 26 (13)

Scorers

Reds
Tries – Wright, Daugunu, McDermott, Wilson
Pen – O’Connor (2)
Con – Hegarty (3)
Drop –
Cards – Tupou (Yellow, 67′)

Waratahs
Tries – Johnson-Holmes, Maddocks
Pen – Harrison (4)
Con – Harrison (2)
Drop –
Cards – Bell (Yellow, 28′)

Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Ian Smith

Teams

Queensland Reds

15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (captain), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Harry Hoopert

Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Angus Scott Young, 21 Scott Malolua, 22 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 23 Josh Flook

Waratahs

15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Will Harris, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Angus Bell

Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Tepai Moeroa

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