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    Reds book home final

    2011-07-02 13:22
    Reds players celebrate (Getty)
    Brisbane - Rod Davies and Quade Cooper propelled Queensland Reds into their first-ever Super 15 final after a hugely convincing 30-13 win over the Auckland Blues in Brisbane on Saturday.

    The table-topping Reds outscored the Blues four tries to one to set up a showdown in Brisbane on July 9 with either South Africa's Western Stormers or seven times champions Canterbury Crusaders of New Zealand.

    Wallaby flyhalf maestro Cooper was again instrumental to the Reds' victory while speedster Davies scored his team's first-ever hat-trick of tries in Super Rugby.

    Cooper, expected to star for the Wallabies in this year's World Cup in New Zealand, often bamboozled the Auckland defence with his sleight of hand and his dazzling footwork to put the Reds on the attack, particularly in the opening half.

    The Reds led 15-0 after 38 minutes but the three-time Super Rugby champion Blues hit back to get within five points at 15-10 early in the second half before the home side reasserted control with two tries to winger Davies.

    Queensland beat the Blues 37-31 in their last encounter, in Brisbane in May, and have lost only once in nine games at home this season.

    "The excitement is there and it was certainly there this week but we are not going to go away from what has worked for us all year and we are going to control that emotion to build towards playing the final here next Saturday night," Reds' skipper James Horwill said.

    "We knew our conditioning was good for tonight's game and the week off probably proved beneficial and we just had to back our defence in the second half."

    Auckland skipper Keven Mealamu conceded that the Reds were the better team.

    "We built up some good pressure but let them off the hook with some little mistakes and against a quality side like the Reds in Brisbane it is going to work against you," he said.

    "You have to take your hat off to the Reds, they played really well and they were the better side tonight.

    "We threw everything we had at them and they came off better than us."

    Davies scored against the run of play off an intercept in the 12th minute when he sprinted 70 metres to score and then Cooper produced some attacking magic off a return kick and sent centre Ben Tapuai over in the 30th minute.

    A Cooper penalty pushed the Reds to a 15-0 lead but the Blues scored right on halftime when lock Chris Lowrey speared through a big gap.

    Luke McAlister nudged Auckland to 15-10 with a penalty goal in the 46th minute but Davies claimed his second try off a Cooper pass and then wrapped up the contest with his third try after a failed chip kick from Jared Payne gave possession to Queensland deep in Auckland territory.

    Payne botched Auckland's last chance when he knocked on with the try-line beckoning in the 70th minute and Reds' replacement forward Adam Wallace-Harrison had a try disallowed by the video referee when he lost the ball over the line.

    Cooper put the icing on the cake with a drop goal with five minutes left.

    15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley

    Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Guy Shepherdson, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Will Chambers

    15 Jared Payne, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Lachie Munro, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams , 4 Chris Lowrey, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Charlie Faumuina

    Substitutes: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 James King, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Rene Ranger, 22 Sherwin Stowers
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