No 8 Curtis Browning scored a brace as the Reds claimed a hard-fought 35-25 win over the Sunwolves in Brisbane on Saturday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
After their 17-17 draw against the Stormers in round 12, the Sunwolves were expected to give another good account of themselves in Brisbane. They did so, but bar former Queenslander Ed Quirk, the Sunwolves forwards just couldn’t match the Reds’ physicality up front.
Both teams showed wonderful enterprise on attack, with the Reds outscoring the Sunwolves four tries to three. The biggest drawcard of this fixture, Japanese superstar Ayumu Goromaru, had poor game though apart from his goal-kicking.
The Reds were quick out of the blocks and had opened a 10-point lead in the 14th minute. Quirk, who was a menace at the breakdown, conceded an early penalty and Goromaro raised the flags. The hosts then won a scrum penalty and set a lineout from which Browning burrowed over.
The Sunwolves were forced to do most of the tackling in the first quarter, as the Reds deprived them of possession, but as soon as they got their hands on the ball inside opposition territory, they scored. The visitors took the ball through multiple phases to gain entry into the 22 before outside centre Derek Carpenter straightened the attack, fended off Hendrik Tui and scored.
However, the Reds simply tightened the screws up front as yet another try originated from set-piece play. From a lineout, lock Cadeyrn Neville got the Reds close to the tryline with a surging carry and captain James Slipper made a good run on the angle to squeeze past the Sunwolves defence.
The Reds’ discipline let them down in the closing stages of the first half, which allowed Tusi Pisi to slot two penalties for a 17-13 scoreline at the turnover. The Sunwolves flyhalf also brought up 100 points for the season with the first of the two attempts.
It was a lively start to the second stanza with Browning completing his double two minutes in.
The Reds controlled the possession and looked to be shutting the Sunwolves down by pinning them back in their own half and continuing to pressurise them at the breakdown. But two quick tries by Carpenter and flank Liaki Moli either side of a Reds penalty goal, saw the Sunwolves draw level at 25-25.
The final quarter, however, belonged to the home side. They withstood several assaults on their line from the Japanese franchise, before closing the result out with a converted try by Neville, who ran 30m to dot down, and a penalty by Jake McIntyre.
Reds – Tries: Curtis Browning (2), James Slipper, Cadeyrn Neville. Conversions: Ayumu Goromaru (2), Jake McIntyre. Penalties: Goromaru (2), McIntyre.
Sunwolves – Tries: Derek Carpenter (2), Liaki Moli. Conversions: Tusi Pisi (2). Penalties: Pisi (2).
Reds – 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Matt Mafi, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Be Matwijow, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia'aua, 23 Junior Laloifi.
Sunwolves – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa (c), 11 John Stewart, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Timothy Bond, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Hitoshi Ono, 20 Talyo Ando, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Miflposeti Paea.
Photo: Jason O'Brien/Getty Images