The Reds fired in the second half to score a 47-34 win over the Kings in Brisbane on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Reds carried for 398m in the first half, but 16 handling errors limited their attacking potency. The 14-10 half-time scoreline was no reflection of the hosts' dominance.
A sharper handling performance in the second stanza paid big dividends. The Reds began this period with Duncan Paia’aua in the sin bin, yet still managed to cross the tryline first. George Smith dotted down in his 150th Super Rugby match, and Quade Cooper's successful conversion propelled the Reds into an 11-point lead.
The Reds scored five tries and 33 points in the second half. Eto Nabuli, Karmichael Hunt and Izaia Perese all completed braces, while Cooper was in devastating form with his passing and kicking game.
The game opened up and the Kings enjoyed some success against a fractured Reds defence. Louis Schreuder scored from close range, and Makazole Mapimpi showed terrific speed and footwork to cross the line.
The Kings lost Wandile Mjekevu to the sin bin in the 69th minute. This did little to deter their attack, though. Masixole Banda and Mapimpi scored again to add some respectability to the scoreline and deny the Reds a try-scoring bonus point.
In fact, the Kings had a couple of chances to snatch a losing bonus point at the death. Banda brushed the touchline before dotting down in the right-hand corner, and then a final pass to an unmarked Mjekevu was called forward.
Reds – Tries: Eto Nabuli (2), Karmichael Hunt (2), George Smith, Izaia Perese (2). Conversions: Quade Cooper (6).
Kings – Tries: Chris Cloete, Louis Schreuder, Makazole Mapimpi (2), Masixole Banda. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (2), Pieter-Steyn de Wet. Penalty: Cronjé.
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Sef Fa’agase.
Subs: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Chris Kuridrani.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé (c), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Justin Forwood, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Chris Heiberg.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Irne Herbst, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Wandile Mjekevu, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Image