The St.George Queensland Reds have opened their Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU season with a comprehensive 41-7 win over the New South Wales Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.
The visitors opened the scoring early through skipper Jake Gordon, but it was all one-way traffic from then on, as Queensland ran in five unanswered tries to record a bonus-point victory in front of a crowd of 12,213.
Electric winger Filipo Daugunu scored a double in the win, while Alex Mafi also crossed the line in his 50th Super Rugby match.
The night was made extra special for Queensland Premier Rugby products Ryan Smith (Brothers), Richie Asiata (Easts) and Ilaisa Droasese (Wests) who made their debuts in the victory, with Droasese crossing for a late try
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “I thought there was some really good entertaining Rugby in that first half.
“It was pleasing our conversion rate when up in their 22, that’s something we’ve been chipping away at.
“There’s some stuff that we can easily sort out like the offsides and different things like that.
“You definitely take the win and if you were told that score before the game you would have taken it.
“It’s a start, you saw some debutants, well done to those lads, I’m really pleased for them,” said Thorn.
Waratahs scrumhalf Gordon dove over early close to the left-hand touch post, with Will Harrison’s conversion giving the visitors a 7-nil lead, before a ten-minute three-try flurry saw the Reds wrestle back momentum in front of their home crowd.
Interim captain James O’Connor hit back with a penalty in the 6th minute, before Jock Campbell finished a long-distance effort to give Queensland their first five-pointer of the season. It was Wallabies winger Jordan Petaia who started the line-break, brushing off the Waratahs defence to streak down the right sideline, before some neat interplay between Seru Uru and O’Connor saw Campbell find the line.
Another Queensland try quickly followed, this time to milestone-man Mafi who burrowed his way through the defence from close range to score the eighth try of his Super Rugby career. O’Connor again converted to extend his side’s lead to 17-7 in the 14th minute.
Daugunu had Queensland’s third minutes later after Fraser McReight broke the line and sent his winger over down the right touchline. O’Connor added another conversion as the Reds attack kicked into gear to propel the hosts to a 24-7 lead.
A second O’Connor penalty goal made the score 27-7 with ten minutes to play in the opening half, before Izaia Perese was shown a red card.
It took until the 70th minute for Queensland to find their first points of the second stanza, as errors and ill-discipline plagued both team’s efforts.
It took a stunning Moses Sorovi inside ball to break the stalemate, with the scrumhalf eventually sending a flying Daugunu over the line for his second try of the night. O’Connor continued his perfect record of the tee to give Queensland a 34-7 lead with 10 minutes to play.
Debutant Droasese capped the night for the hosts, diving over after the siren on the back of an O’Connor long ball. O’Connor made it a perfect seven-from-seven with the boot, slotting the final conversion to put the score out to 41-7.
The Queensland Reds will again be at home in Round 2 of Super Rugby AU when they take on the Melbourne Rebels next Friday 26 February - CLICK HERE for tickets.
St.George Queensland Reds
Tries: Daugunu 2, Campbell, Mafi, Droasese
Conversions: O’Connor 5
Penalties: O’Connor 2
New South Wales Waratahs
Conversions: Harrison 1