The Reds will be looking for back-to-back wins on the road when they meet the Waratahs on Saturday.
New Reds boss Richard Graham began his Super Rugby tenure with victory over last season's finalists, the Brumbies. Perhaps the best compliment to Graham is that the Reds looked the same as ever, tenacious at the breakdown and with pace to burn in the back three.
Aidan Toua scored a thrilling try from fullback, while Lachie Turner got his time in Queensland off to the perfect start with a try and some try-saving defence.
But the key to the Reds, as it has been for some years, was the halfback combination of Will Genia and Quade Cooper. It should be expected of a 25-year-old No 10 to mature but Cooper has been such a wildcard playmaker throughout his career that his improved composure and control is obvious. His kicking from hand against the Brumbies was impressive as he and Genia closed out a narrow two-point win.
Having therefore overcome the breakdown threat of Ben Mowen and David Pocock, the Reds should feel confident taking on Michael Hooper.
The Waratahs' enjoyed some seriously porous defence from the Force in their season opener last Sunday, scoring six tries including a hat-trick for Israel Folau.
Expectations are high in Sydney following the return of Kurtley Beale as coach Michael Chieka looks to build on a promising first season in 2013, but the true battle comes up front. Chieka needs the likes of Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Hooper and Wycliff Palu to give more if the Waratahs are to contend with the bruising Brumbies and Reds' packs.
Seeing Stephen Hoiles back in Super Rugby after years out through injury is welcome, while Jacques Potgeiter's selection in the second row will be worth keeping an eye on.
The Waratahs will be without captain Dave Dennis, with Hooper taking the armband, while the Reds have lost goal-kicking inside centre Mike Harris with Anthony Fainga'a coming in at 12 to replace him.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Stephen Hoiles, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Jacques Potgieter, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs (from): 16 Tola Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Pat McCutcheon, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Rob Horne, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Jonno Lance.
Reds – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Lucas, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images