Quade Cooper scored 22 points upon his return from injury as the Reds beat the Force 32-10 in Perth on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
The flyhalf played a hugely influential role upon his return from a two-month injury lay-off, scoring two tries, having a hand in the other two, and kicking well for goal. His mere presence seemed to lift those around him, including halfback partner Will Genia.
The Force led 3-0 after dominating the first 10 minutes of this Australian derby, but from then on the Reds ran the show.
They appeared to have scored a try in the left-hand corner through Samu Kerevi, following a quick penalty tap from Genia, but James Slipper was penalised for not using his arms during an earlier cleanout.
However, the Reds did cross the line a few minutes later, when Genia took another quick penalty tap, and Kerevi's offload in the tackle put Cooper away. The flyhalf slotted the touchline conversion and then a penalty.
Cooper played a big part in the Reds' next try, with his no-look flick pass putting Turner over in the left-hand corner, and another excellent conversion made it 17-3.
The Force hit back just before the break when Dane Haylett-Petty went over under the crossbar and the TMO could find no reason not to award the try.
But the Reds went 22-10 ahead early in the second half after a run-around from Cooper helped create space out wide, with Turner getting his second try.
Another Cooper penalty extended the lead to 15 and the flyhalf then scored his second try, and the Reds' fourth, after Genia had broken away from a scrum on the Force 22m line.
Neither side could add to their tally in the remaining 18 minutes, with the Force dominating possession but not being able to do much with it.
The bonus-point win sees the Reds move from 14th to 12th on the overall standings, while the Force remain rooted to the bottom.
Force – Try: Dane Haylett-Petty. Conversion: Sias Ebersohn. Penalty: Ebersohn.
Reds – Tries: Quade Cooper (2), Lachie Turner (2). Conversions: Cooper (3). Penalties: Cooper (2).
Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Patrick Dellit.
Reds – 15 James O’Connor, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Karmichael Hunt, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (c),
Subs: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Pettowa Paraka, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ed O’Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Ben Tapuai.
Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images