Reds down Waratahs in derby
Reds v Waratahs (Gallo Images)
Brisbane - The Reds staved off a determined comeback by the Waratahs to win their Super Rugby clash 25-17 on Saturday.
It was the Reds' fourth win in succession over their arch-rivals, thanks largely to a pair of tries for Ben Tapuai, but they were given a scare by the Waratahs in the second half.
In front of a healthy crowd of 35 801, the Reds bounced back from last weekend's loss to the Brumbies to dominate the opening half against the Waratahs, playing their first game of the season.
The Reds were missing some key players, including Wallabies captain James Horwill and star halfback Will Genia, but looked to have the game in their keeping when they led 17-3 at the break after dominating the first half.
Dom Shipperley and Tapuai both scored tries as the Reds controlled possession and capitalised on handling errors by the Waratahs.
Although skipper James Slipper missed the second half due to concussion, the Reds might even have broken their opponents had Michael Harris converted an early second-half penalty that would have extended the lead to 17 points.
However, the attempt bounced back into play off the upright and the Waratahs seized on the narrow escape to fight their way back into the match.
Their first try came through the controversial Israel Folau, playing his third football code after stints in rugby league and Australian Rules, when he found himself alone out wide after a pass from Brendan Foley in the 47th minute.
The Reds appeared to be tiring and the Waratahs levelled the score when Foley completed a tough conversion after a Ben Volavola try in the 59th minute.
They looked to have all the momentum, but the Reds got some crucial breathing space with a long-range Harris penalty in the 69th minute, before a bustling run by Eddie Quirk in the 74th minute saw him dragged down by Folau just shy of the try line, but able to hand off to Tapuai for a try that finally put the result beyond doubt.
Tapuai, who took over the Reds captaincy in the second half, said their back row had lifted them to victory.
"They were unbelievable," he said. "It was a big ask for the young guys to step up, but they did it today and got us over the line."
"We're not quite there, but we will take that result."
Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis said his team had given the Reds too much ball.
"Just too much turnover," he said.
"You can't give a team like the Reds that much loose possession and we were chasing our tail from the start."
15. Mike Harris, 14. Dom Shipperley, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Ben Lucas, 8. Jake Schatz, 7. Liam Gill, 6. Eddie Quirk, 5. Rob Simmons, 4. Ed O'Donoghue, 3. James Slipper, 2. Saia Faingaa (captain), 1. Greg Holmes
Substitutes: 16. James Hanson, 17. Albert Anae, 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19. Jarrad Butler, 20. Nick Frisby, 21. Jono Lance, 22. Luke Morahan
15 Israel Folau, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Tom Kingston, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Jeremy Tilse
Substitutes: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Ben Volavola