Queensland again comes up short in Perth as Quade Cooper misses last-ditch conversion.
Western Force again foiled the Queensland Reds in a fighting 11-11 Super 15 draw to deny the former champions the chance to lead the Australian conference in Perth on Saturday.
The Force, who upset the 2011 champions 19-12 in Brisbane in round five last March, again blunted the big-name Reds with their heavy committed defence.
It finished a try apiece as defence dominated with the Reds drawing level through a scrambling try from replacement back Chris Feauai-Sautia with seven minutes left.
Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper missed what would have been the winning conversion from the sideline.
The Perth-based Force had led 11-3 after a try from backrower Ben McCalman in the 52nd minute only for South African flyhalf Sias Ebersohn to miss the opportunity to stretch his side’s lead with poor attempts at a penalty and McCalman’s try conversion.
The Reds fought desperately to hit back with Cooper landing a penalty and open-side flanker Liam Gill held up over the Force try-line with 11 minutes left.
But Queensland finally breached the Force line for the first time in 153 minutes’ playing time against them this season, when Feauai-Sautia wrestled his way over in a mass scramble.
It was Queensland’s second draw in three games after wasting many opportunities in a 19-19 stalemate with the ACT Brumbies in Brisbane last month.
The Reds have now only won once in five games against the Force in Perth.
The two points from the draw edged the Reds to within one point of the Brumbies in the Australian conference ahead of the Brumbies’ home match with the Canterbury Crusaders in Canberra on Sunday.
Wallaby winger Digby Ioane, who signed a lucrative two-year deal during the week with Stade Francais, was the Reds’ most dangerous attacker and he was a constant threat to the Force defence.
“Our defence was great in that game, we backed our system and defended great. They threw a lot at us and we were unlucky not to win,” Force skipper Matt Hodgson said.
“We played well against the big teams like the Reds and the Crusaders, but we just need that consistency week in week out and we’ll be a great side.”
Queensland’s Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia said the Reds needed to turn their possession into points.
“We build a lot of pressure and we hold the ball for long periods but we’re just finding it hard to get over the line,” Genia said.
“They gave us three-four days off after our last game with the Auckland Blues to prepare us for this game because we knew it would be a tough hard battle, so we’re a little disappointed on that front.”
The Reds will take on South Africa’s Coastal Sharks at home next week, while the Force take on the Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand.