Cooper magic kills Kings
Australia's Queensland Reds ended a run of six defeats with a free-scoring 47-34 win over threatened South African Super Rugby franchise Southern Kings in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Reds scored seven tries to five with Quade Cooper returning from suspension to kick six conversions. Former Wallaby flank George Smith celebrated his 150th Super Rugby appearance with a try.
Eto Nabuli, Karmichael Hunt and Izaia Perese all scored doubles for the Reds while Makazole Mapimpi (two), Chris Cloete, Louis Schreuder and Masixole Bande crossed for the Kings.
"We're just stoked with the win. It's been a difficult start to the season, so to run out at our home ground and earn a win for ourselves and our fans is really rewarding.
"It was great to see Quade [Cooper] and Karmichael [Hunt] come back into the side and have an impact, but I was also pleased with the performances of some of our younger generation, they handled the pressure of starting well," Reds coach Nick Styles said.
The Reds led 14-10 at half-time and opened a 47-17 lead with under 20 minutes left before the Port Elizabeth-based Kings finished with 17 points to close the gap to 13 points at full-time.
It was Queensland's second win of a lacklustre season, while the Kings are languishing at the bottom of South Africa 2 conference with just one win from eight outings.
Man of the match: Chris Cloete was industrious as always while Yaw Penxe and Makazole Mapimpi were the only real threats for the Kings. George Smith was a nuisance at the breakdown while Samu Kerevi and Karmichael Hunt were unstoppable with ball in hand. Izaia Perese showed plenty of speed when he grabbed his tries but our award goes to the man who pulled the strings in the second half to ensure the Reds pulled ahead, that man is flyhalf Quade Cooper.
For the Reds:
Tries: Nabuli 2, Hunt 2, Smith, Perese 2
Cons: Cooper 6
For the Kings:
Tries: Cloete, Schreuder, Mapimpi 2, Banda
Cons: Cronje 2, de Wet
Yellow cards: Duncan Paia'aua (Reds, 38 – late tackle; swinging arm); Wandile Mjekevu (Kings, 69 – foul play, knee into a player)
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Samu Kerevi (captain), 12 Duncan Paia'aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Sef Fa'agase.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Chris Kuridrani.
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Justin Forwood, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Chris Heiberg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Irne Herbst, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Wandile Mjekevu, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Damon Murphy (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)