Reds down plucky Force
Brisbane - Super Rugby champions, the Reds, needed another perfect kicking performance from flyhalf Mike Harris to overcome the Force 35-20 in a scrappy encounter here on Saturday.
The Reds scored first-half tries through Ben Tapuai and Radike Samo in greasy conditions but it was the 25 points from a flawless display of place-kicking from Harris, who has yet to miss a kick in Super Rugby, that proved the difference.
"I'm pleased to win but not pleased with how we got it," Reds and Wallabies captain James Horwill said in a televised interview. "Ball control was poor again and to allow them the soft tries that we did is just not good enough."
The Force's tries came at the start of the second half from David Pocock and James Stannard but the Perth-based outfit never looked like having the cutting edge to convert pressure into enough points to threaten the upset.
Reds winger Tapuai cantered down the sideline breaking tackles for the first try after 20 minutes and No 8 Samo added the second 16 minutes later with a 40m intercept which had echoes of his try for Australia against New Zealand last year.
All the while Harris, standing in for the injured Quade Cooper, kept kicking points from all parts of the field and the Reds went in for half-time 23-6 up.
Two tries in five minutes in the third quarter of the match brought the Force back into the contest, however.
Captain Pocock led the way with his charge over opposite No 7 Beau Robinson to score under the posts before a slick sidestep from Stannard sealed a brilliant solo effort and the flyhalf converted both to narrow the lead to 26-20.
Harris extended the Reds' lead by another three points with a superbly executed kick from the right touchline just before the hour mark and concluded the scoring with two more in the last quarter.
Harris has now made 16 kicks from 16 attempts in the first two matches of the season.
Tries: Ben Tapuai, Radike Samo
Conversions: Mike Harris (2)
Penalties: Harris (7)
Tries: David Pocock, James Stannard
Conversions: Stannard (2)
Penalties: Stannard (2)
15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Jono Lance, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Albert Anae, 1 Ben Daley.
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Van Humphries, 19 Eddie Quirk, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Rod Davies.
15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Patrick Dellit, 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 James Stannard, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Substitutes: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Angus Cottrell, 20 Ben Seymour, 21 Rory Sidey, 22 Samu Wera