Superb first half sets up former Super 15 champions for victory.
A dazzling four-try opening half set up the Queensland Reds for a 32-17 Super 15 victory to end a run of outs against the Coastal Sharks in Brisbane on Friday.
The 2011 Super Rugby champions shredded the Sharks’ defence to earn a four-try bonus point in just 34 minutes before the South Africans recovered to win the second half 14-3.
The Durban-based Sharks had won six of their previous seven encounters against the Reds, including dumping Queensland out of last season’s playoffs 30-17 in Brisbane, but the Reds were clearly superior on this occasion.
Winger Rod Davies scored a brace of tries and the Faingaa twins, Saia and Anthony, scored a try each with Wallaby fly-half Quade Cooper heavily involved in all of the tries.
The highlight was a length-of-the-field try involving Cooper, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia, who rolled a kick across field for Davies to swoop and score his opening try in the 16th minute.
Cooper’s grubber kick had the Sharks in disarray for Davies to claim his try double and land Queensland their first four-try bonus point at home this year.
But the Reds could not reproduce their razzle-dazzle attack in the second half with the Sharks scoring two converted tries through winger Piet Lindeque and replacement forward Derick Minnie to close the gap.
Cooper kicked his second penalty goal for Queensland’s only points of the half to put his side 15 points ahead of last season’s finalists with seven minutes to play.
The five competition points took the Reds to within one point of the ACT Brumbies in the Australian conference, with the Brumbies getting four points from a weekend bye.
It was the injury-hit Sharks’ fifth straight loss and left them 12 points behind South African conference leaders Northern Bulls.
Queensland’s stylish win followed two grinding draws against the Brumbies and Western Force and a hard-fought 12-11 win over the Auckland Blues.
“We spoke all week about playing a bit more expansive rugby, expressing ourselves as players because we have the players who can create something from nothing,” Genia said.
“So we were very pleased with that first half, but if we’re going to be hard on ourselves we were disappointed because we were too disciplined on our structures in the second half.”
Captain Daniel Keegan said the Sharks were left with a mountain to climb after a poor first half.
“That’s where we lost the game. We had to defend too much and when we got the ball we turned it over. We were just exhausted from having to defend so much,” Keegan said.
“When you’re that far behind at half-time it’s hard to come back but I’m proud of the way the boys performed in the second half.”
The Sharks will go on to Perth and play Western Force next Friday, while the Reds begin their two-match tour of South Africa against the Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.