The Queensland Reds have sealed their first win of the season with a thrilling second-half fightback against the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
A Hamish Stewart penalty in the 79th minute handed the Reds a 34-31 victory after an injection of bench players sparked a Queensland turnaround.
Trailing by 16 points at the break, the Reds scored three tries in seven minutes to take the lead before an error at the restart allowed the Sunwolves to score again and regain the lead.
But the Reds dug in and when Harry Hockings charged down a Sunwolves kick, Tate McDermott was there to pick up the scraps and dive over for a try that again levelled the scores.
Stewart missed the conversion but stepped up to slot a penalty after the Reds drove deep into their attacking zone from the restart after an outstanding run from Filipo Daugunu gave them the field position they needed to be in scoring range.
Daugunu came on in a second-half backline reshuffle and was among the bench players that reshaped the match for the Reds.
The injection of McDermott at scrumhalf for Sorovi allowed the Reds quick ball at the breakdown and they played a simpler game, using their forward strength and outstanding fitness to their advantage, with replacements Hockings, Feao Fotuaika and Brandon Paenga-Amosa among the pack leaders in the revival.
Paenga-Amosa finished with a second-half double as the Reds clawed their way back into a match that was crucial to their season.
After conceding three tries in the opening half, the Reds trailed 21-5 at the break and needed a drastic improvement to break their 2019 hoodoo.
A simple failure to number up in defence that allowed the Sunwolves to open the scoring in the 11th minute.
Reds captain Samu Kerevi had identified Kiwi Michael Little as a man his side needed to contain if they were to be successful and his words came back to haunt his team when they failed to do so in the opening stages, Little splitting Queensland’s right-side defence open as he scooted through a gap and held the ball up before finding flanker Dan Pryor, who sent a pass to sccrumhalf Jamie Booth, who scooted over for the opener.
It didn’t take the Reds long to answer though, with Liam Wright diving over after the Queensland maul drove 20m to score.
It was to be their only foray inside the 22 in the opening half and resulted in a score, giving the Reds some hope that if they can hold the ball they are a chance of scoring points.
A second try to the Sunwolves midway through the half put the Reds further behind and despite some desperate defence – including a Duncan Paia’aua and Scott Higginbotham denying tries with individual efforts – the Reds cracked again before halftime with Pryor scoring in the 36th minute, with Parker’s conversion giving them a 21-5 lead at the break.
The half finished with prop Pauliasi Manu stretchered from the ground after suffering a head knock in an attempted tackle on Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
Sunwolves – Tries: Jamie Booth, Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, Dan Pryor. Conversions: Hayden Parker (4). Penalty: Parker.
Reds – Tries: Liam Wright, Brandon Paenga-Amosa (2), Harry Hoopert, Tate McDermott. Conversions: Hamish Stewart (3). Penalty: Stewart.
|March 16, 2019||06:10||Super Rugby 2019||Vodacom Super Rugby 2019||80'|
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