Australian side completes cleansweep of New Zealand teams in Super 15.
Australia’s Queensland Reds clung on for a 12-11 victory over the Auckland Blues to maintain their dominance over New Zealand teams in this season’s Super 15 series in Brisbane on Friday.
The Blues scored the only try of a titanic duel but Quade Cooper’s four penalties proved decisive with the winning kick coming five minutes from time.
The victory means the Reds completed a clean sweep over Kiwi opposition in this year’s Super Rugby having previously beaten the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Chiefs to make it 12 wins from their past 13 games against New Zealand teams.
They are not scheduled to face the Canterbury Crusaders in regular season.
Overall, Australian teams have now won eight of their 10 trans-Tasman encounters against their New Zealand rivals this season.
The Blues paid dearly for their 14 handling errors, twice losing the ball deep inside the Reds’ quarter in the final minutes and then bungling a lineout on their throw after the fulltime siren.
Queensland went to the top of the Australian conference and the overall tournament standings ahead of Australian rivals ACT Brumbies’ derby game against the Western Force on Saturday.
“A lot of things didn’t go right for us tonight, we didn’t play the way we wanted to but the outstanding thing is we showed a lot of guts and determination,” Reds skipper James Horwill said.
“The Blues are a side that test you. You saw that right from the first minute when they spun the ball wide and they used the whole width of the pitch, they’re a tough team and we did well there.”
The Blues gained a losing bonus point to move two points clear of defending champions Waikato Chiefs in the New Zealand conference ahead of the Chiefs’ home game against South Africa’s Coastal Sharks on Saturday.
Auckland began the match strongly holding on to the ball through 22 phases and dominating early possession before both sides traded penalties.
Cooper kicked the Reds to the front with his third penalty in the 29th minute but the Blues scored what turned out to be the only try of the match through centre Jackson Willison three minutes later.
Willison crossed wide out after beating fullback Jono Lance’s tackle to give Auckland an 11-9 lead at halftime.
Cooper missed an easy penalty 14 minutes into the second half which would have put the Reds in front.
The Blues had the home side under pressure winning a total of nine turnovers and the Reds needed an inspirational performance from their Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia to keep them in the contest.
But the winning break came for the Reds in the 75th minute after Daniel Braid was penalised in a rolling maul giving Cooper a successful shot at penalty goal.
“It’s so frustrating. It comes down to one point and it comes down to what the referee (Craig Joubert) sees… you win some, you lose some and today it just didn’t go our way,” Blues skipper Ali Williams said. “That hurts, that sucks.”
The Reds are away to Western Force in Perth next week, while the Blues have home advantage against South Africa’s Western Stormers.