The Queensland Reds have secured their second win of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, claiming a dramatic 27-24 win over the Fijian Drua at Suncorp Stadium.
The Reds led 12-3 at the half-time break and opened up a 21-point lead with two tries early in the second half, before a resurgent Fijian outfit cut the deficit to just three-points late in the game.
Queensland held on to win, Josh Flook scoring a double and Taj Annan making his Super Rugby starting debut in what was the Reds’ first match at Suncorp Stadium in 2023.
The Drua opened the scoring with a Frank Lomani penalty goal in the 7th minute, before Queensland hit back with Flook’s first try. Flook collected the crumbs of a loose Harry Wilson pass to bust through from close range, with a James O’Connor cross-field kick putting Queensland in position to score. O’Connor hit the woodwork with his conversion attempt, the Reds leading 5-3 after 12-minutes.
A yellow-card to backrower Kitione Salawa reduced the Drua to 14-men in the 20th minute.
Flook made it a double in the 29th minute, the outside-centre streaking down the left sideline to score after some deft interplay between O’Connor and Fraser McReight put him through a hole. O’Connor converted from in front of the posts to extend Queensland’s lead to 10-3.
The Reds made the perfect start to the second stanza through Wilson, who dotted down for his side’s third try thanks to an Annan pass out wide. O’Connor converted to put the score out to 17-3.
Annan had his second assist soon after, Vunivalu scoring close to the right-hand corner off the back of a perfect long ball by the 19-year-old. O’Connor nailed the conversion, Queensland leading 24-3 with half-an-hour to play.
Seru Uru was yellow-carded for repeated infringements on the Queensland line in the 52nd minute and the Drua capitalised quickly, Ratu Rotuisolia finding the line. Lomani converted to bring the score to 24-10.
The Fijians capitalised on several Queensland errors and seized the momentum, Kalaveti Ravouvou scoring his side’s second try to bring the score to 24-17, with the Drua turning on the attacking flair in front of 13,529 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
A Tom Lynagh penalty sent Queensland into a 10-point lead in the 69th minute, but it took the visitors just one-minute to again hit back, this time Iosefo Masi finding the line. Lomani continued his perfect form off the tee to bring the Fijians within three-points at 27-24.
The Drua continued to surge, before a Filipo Daugnu turnover sealed the game for the Reds in the final minutes.
Queensland travel to Melbourne to face the Rebels at AAMI Park next Saturday, before returning home to take on the reigning premiers the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on Friday 31 March. Buy tickets via https://bit.ly/3FyRXVw.
Queensland Reds 27
Tries: Josh Flook 2, Harry Wilson, Suliasi Vunivalu
Conversions: James O’Connor 2
Penalties: Tom Lynagh
Fijian Drua 24
Tries: Ratu Rotuisolia, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Iosefo Masi
Conversions: Frank Lomani 3
At Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on Sunday 19 March, 2023.