The St.George Queensland Reds have claimed their first victory of the Harvey Norman Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition defeating the Chiefs 40-34 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.
Queensland dominated the opening half in North Queensland, running in five-tries-to-nil to open up a 33-3 lead at the break with Isaac Henry crossing for a brace in his starting debut.
The visitors hit back in the second half to set up a tight finish, but it wasn’t enough as the Reds held on to secure a narrow a six-point win.
Tate McDermott notched-up his 50th Queensland and Super Rugby cap, as Townsville hosted its first Super Rugby game in 15-years.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “Hats off to the Chiefs, they just kept plugging away.
“The guys who started the game got a heck of a job done – I wasn’t happy with my finishers tonight.
“As Queenslanders the last couple of weeks haven’t represented us. We’re pretty determined to have a performance here tonight. We haven’t been up in Townsville for 14-odd years and we love Brisbane, but we represent Queensland – which is the state all the way up to the top,” said Thorn.
Both sides were unable to convert their scoring opportunities in a frantic opening 15-minutes, before Queensland were awarded a penalty try after Chase Tiatia knocked a James O’Connor pass down as the Reds threatened the line. Tiatia was also yellow-carded in the sequence to reduce the visitors to 14-men.
Chiefs flyhalf Damian McKenzie hit back instantly with a penalty goal, but it wasn’t long before Queensland responded with their second try of the night. Henry was the scorer, the centre charging onto an inch-perfect Tate McDermott short ball to score the first five-pointer of his Super Rugby career. O’Connor made no mistake with the conversion to open up a 12-3 lead in the 22nd minute, while McKenzie was also shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on McDermott after the final pass.
With the Chiefs down two-men, Queensland quickly capitalised, with James O’Connor and Bryce Hegarty combining from within their own half to put Suliasi Vunivalu away to score his fourth try of the Trans-Tasman season. O’Connor slotted his second conversion of the night to open up a 19-3 lead.
Feao Fotuaika had Queensland’s fourth of the night in the 30th minute, the prop willing himself over the line and through the defence from close range to score.
Henry made it a double six-minutes later, the Wests playmaker running onto a deft O’Connor overhead pass and stepping his way past the defence to score. O’Connor again converted to extend Queensland’s advantage to 33-3 at the half-time break.
The Chiefs had the first try of the second stanza to cut the deficit to 33-8 with 28-minutes to play, backrower Pita-Gus Sowakula the scorer.
Queensland hit back soon after with their sixth try, Filipo Daugunu finishing a simple through-the-hands sequence close to the left-hand corner. O’Connor slotted the difficult conversion to extend his side’s lead to 40-15.
Lock Tupou Vaa'i had the visiting side’s second try of the night in the 63rd minute, before Bailyn Sullivan scored to bring the score to 40-29 with four-minutes to play.
Xavier Roe scored soon after to set up a grandstand finish at 40-34, but it wasn’t to be for the Chiefs, with Queensland holding on for a memorable win in Townsville.
Queensland return to Suncorp Stadium next round for their final home game of 2021 against the Blues on Friday 4, June. Tickets available via https://bit.ly/3hYdwUx