Waratahs humbled as Reds, Brumbies notch trial wins
SUPER RUGBY PRE-SEASON WRAP: The Waratahs have some headaches as the Super Rugby Pacific season approaches after they were steamrolled by the Queensland Reds in a trial game two weeks out from a Round-One rematch.
The Reds led 29-0 at half-time and won 32-7 on Saturday with Jock Campbell in devastating form at fullback and fellow try-scorer Hunter Paisami equally damaging at inside centre.
The Reds’ offence was humming in Roma, where new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt, who doesn’t officially start in the role until March 1, was an interested onlooker.
Test hooker Matt Faessler scored two first-half tries while 19-year-old No.10 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips did his Round-One selection chances no harm given the Reds’ flow with him in the driver’s seat.
Campbell started on the bench in last week’s loss to the Western Force, with Jordan Petaia preferred in the No.15 by new coach Les Kiss.
But the 2022 Wallaby, overlooked by Eddie Jones last year, made the most of his audition with two first-half try assists and a clean break to score himself.
He put Paisami into space for the game’s first try, the No.12 running over the top of Joey Walton to finish with authority and set the tone.
The sides will meet in the first round in Brisbane on February 24, with Darren Coleman’s men needing to fix a leaky defence that also conceded 38 points in a hefty loss to Melbourne Rebels last Saturday.
In Perth, Western Force flyhalf Max Burey missed a tough after-the-siren conversion to level their trial game against the Brumbies, who snuck home 22-20.
The Brumbies scored four tries to the Force’s two, Andy Muirhead’s five-pointer off a Corey Toole kick giving the visitors a 22-15 lead nine minutes from full-time.
Henry O’Donnell replied with the game’s final play but Burey pushed his kick wide.
The Force, who beat the Reds last week, host the Hurricanes in Round One while the Rebels host the Brumbies.
The scores and scorers:
Brumbies 22-20 Western Force
Tries: Andy Muirhead, Billy Pollard, Corey Toole, Len Ikitau
Con: Declan Meredith
For Western Force:
Tries: Ben Donaldson, Henry O’Donnell, Ronan Leahy
Queensland Reds 32-7 Waratahs
For Queensland Reds:
Tries: Matt Faessler 2, Jock Campbell, Hunter Paisami
Cons: Harry McLaughlin-Phillips 3
Pen: McLaughlin-Phillips, Tom Lynagh
Try: Penalty Try