Stage set for Aussie blockbuster
The Queensland Reds have set the stage for next week's blockbuster Australian Conference derby against the Brumbies.
The Queensland Reds have set the stage for next week's blockbuster Australian Conference derby against the Brumbies, following a thrilling 31-23 bonus point victory over the reigning Super Rugby champion Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The victory was the Reds sixth win from eight Super Rugby games in 2013 and has them sitting just two competition points behind the current table-topping Brumbies ahead of next Saturday's highly-anticipated contest in Brisbane.
The Reds produced their best performance of 2013 in the four tries to two victory over the Chiefs with wing Rod Davies scoring twice in his first starting opportunity of the season, while No.8 Jake Schatz and flyhalf Quade Cooper, who also added 11 points with the boot, crossed for five pointers.
The Reds have now won four consecutive Super Rugby matches against the Chiefs while they have also extended their impressive record against New Zealand opposition with the Reds winning 11 of their past 12 matches against their Trans-Tasman rivals.
"The Chiefs have improved a lot as a side over the past few years but we knew if we got the game right it would make a big difference to our prospects in the competition," Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said.
"We don't need reminding internally, but the result reminds people that we still have some life left in us.
"The only way you remind people of that is by winning games like this.
"We know what we are capable of and we are just focused on continually improving.
"We've now produced two bonus point wins in a row, both in New Zealand, and not too many teams will do that.
"This we had a definite plan and ideas which helped us to get a result.
"Some of our thinking behind the scenes really paid off and it was pleasing to see some of the things we've been practicing work.
"We were always going to need a few tricks up our sleeves, they're a very hard team to play.
"You aren't going to beat them by just throwing the ball out to the wing. We had good leadership and Quade and Will did a really good job at managing the game.
"We ticked off what we wanted to do tonight, securing maximum points, and it will now be exciting to go back and play at home again. The Brumbies haven't been out of our minds and the coaches have been thinking about it for some time."
Reds captain James Horwill produced an inspired performance and was responsible for setting the tone of the match early with a clean linebreak and try-saving tackle within the opening five minutes.
"We really enjoy coming here to play and the kiwi sides always bring the best out of us," Horwill said.
"One thing we pride ourselves on is our scrambling defence and the Chiefs have some very damaging ball runners. When they have momentum they are very hard to stop.
"There were times there in both halves where we worked very hard to make sure they didn't score a try and that's about effort and attitude. That's something this team has loads of."
Flyhalf Quade Cooper was equally as impressive in contributing 16 points courtesy of a try, four conversions and a penalty goal.
"It's very tough to come up against the Chiefs, especially when they are at home, but these are the challenges you look for throughout the Super Rugby season," Cooper said.
"Our policy and our motto are just to work hard for each other - a brotherhood. So, when the Chiefs made a break you could count all the boys getting back and working as hard as they could to try and slow their momentum down.
"We had quite a slow start to the season but you can see that we are starting to build momentum."