Cooper makes big statement
Quade Cooper made a huge statement, following his axing from the Wallaby training squad, when he guided the Reds to a 31-23 win over the Chiefs.
Quade Cooper made a huge statement, following his axing from the Wallaby training squad, when he guided the Reds to a well-deserved 31-23 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The four tries to two Super Rugby win saw the Reds cement their place in the play-off zone - second in the Australian conference and fourth overall.
However, the biggest talking point will be Cooper's superlative performance in the wake of Robbie Deans's decision to leave him out of the Wallaby squad just a day earlier.
The 2011 Champions played the 2012 Champions at the 2012 Champions' home ground and won well.
Not only did the Reds win but they also deprived the reigning champions of a bonus point for being close losers.
Despite the long period of Chiefs' attack in the second half, the Reds deserved their win.
They were more creative, their basics more secure and they had Will Genia and Quade Cooper. The Chiefs hands let them down too often, their judgement was too often clouded and they were beaten to the tackle ball by the Reds who stayed on their feet and won turnovers.
The game started at a rate in the Hamilton sunshine with 16 428 people to watch this top clash - not a great crowd..
The Reds kicked off and there was James Horwill charging at the line with Liam Messam trying to hold onto him. Horwill was over at the posts but held up. From the scrum the Reds bashed with Liam Gill closest. They went wide to the left with a two-man overlap but Anthony Faingaa's pass was impossibly high and Rod Davies knocked on. The Chiefs took advantage but back came the Reds as James Hanson charged and Davies had another run.
From a scrum in the Chiefs' 22 Aaron Cruden put Richard Kahui away and the elegant centre raced downfield. He gave to Bundee Aki who headed for the line, till tackled by Gill. The Chiefs stayed attacking but Cruden passed to Davies and the speedy wing had an easy 42-metre run to the posts. Cooper converted. 7-0. So much had happened and only 6 minutes had passed.
The Chiefs came close to scoring when Gareth Anscombe and Tim Nanai-Williams combined but Cruden could not hold onto a difficult pass. From a line-out Cruden attacked again but Michael Fitzgerald lost the ball in Hansen's tackle.
Greg Holmes was penalised at a scrum and Anscombe goaled his 100th point for 2013 Super Rugby. 7-3 after 15 minutes.
Hika Elliot had a promising charge on the right and then Anscombe raced for the corner. Hemmed in he passed a clever pass inside to Aki who scored. 10-7 after 21 minutes. For a short seven minutes, the Chiefs led.
A penalty gave the Reds an attacking line-out. They mauled, the Chiefs were brittle and Jake Schatz was the one who fell down over the line for the try. 14-10 after 28 minutes.
Kahui grubbered and Cruden lofted a flykick but Asaeli Tikoirotuma knocked on when a try seemed likely.
At the start of the second half Schatz was penalised at a tackle. 14-13 after 42 minutes but then two penalties marched line-outs towards the Chiefs' line. They bashed and then Cooper sold Cruden a huge dummy and waltzed over to score under the posts. 21-13 after 45 minutes.
Kahui broke but, despite having Aki next to him, chipped. As the two Chiefs charged at him, Genia jumped and marked.
Davies intercepted an Anscombe pass and Jono Lance footed the ball into the Chiefs in-goal where he and Anscombe dived for the ball. The TMO saw that Anscombe only just got there first.
August Pulu lost the ball in a tackle and the Reds attacked. Back the ball came to Genia who gave a magnificent long pass to Davies on the wing and round he went for his second try. 28-13 after 52 minutes, at which stage the Chiefs made several changes.
Kahui broke and Cruden was close and Rhys Marshall even closer. Rob Simmons was penalised at a tackle and Anscombe goaled. But Sam Cane was penalised at a tackle. 31-16 after 59 minutes.
Patrick Osborne sped down the right on a great run and the Chiefs went wide left but Aki passed forward. Still the Chiefs stayed on the attack and Anthony Faingaa was sent to the sin bin for a tackle infringement. The Chiefs tapped and went right, giving Osborne an easy try. 31-23 after 66 minutes.
Soon afterwards Osborne had another speeding, weaving run down the right, the ball in one big hand but Gill caught him.
With six minutes to go, the Chiefs attacked but Ben Tameifuna lost the ball forward near the line and Genia started an attack down the left that set Davies racing. Cooper missed two kicks at goal, the second as the siren sounded.
Man of the Match: The Chiefs had Kahui but the Reds had three candidates in Quade Cooper, Liam Gill and our choice Will Genia, a rugby genius.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Aki, Osborne
Cons: Anscombe 2
Pens: Anscombe 3
For the Reds:
Tries: Davies 2, Schatz, Cooper
Cons: Cooper 4
Yellow card: Anthony Faingaa (Reds, 65 - repeated offences at the breakdown)
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 August Pulu, 8 Liam Messam (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Michael Kainga, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Patrick Osborne.
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 22 Aidan Toua.
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri
TMO: Ben Skeen