Proud coach Brad Thorn hailed the Reds’ State of Origin-like defence after Queensland reignited their Super Rugby AU semi-final hopes with a gutsy 19-3 win over the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium.
A week after conceding six tries in an embarrassing 45-12 loss to the Waratahs, the Reds turned the tables with a tough performance on Saturday night built on sturdy goal-line defence.
Having also earned a bonus point in their three tries to nil performance, Queensland moved from fourth to second on the ladder.
The Rebels dominated possession in the second half and had enough ball to win two games.
But the Reds – who played the last 10 minutes with a man short after hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa was yellow carded – stood tall time and again, with centre Hamish Stewart, halfback Tate McDermott and prop Taniela Tupou.particularly strong.
The Rebels Isi Naisarani is tackled by Reds winger Filipo Daugunu. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“It was Origin-esque … they just kept fronting up,” said Thorn, a Queensland State of Origin great.
“`Queenslander’, that’s what it was. If you summarise Queensland, that’s what it’s about. You can’t describe it.”
Rebels coach Dave Wessels also praised Queensland’s defence – which included more than 200 tackles compared to Melbourne’s 66 – but was disappointed with his own side’s display.
“I don’t think we played well in general,” Wessels said.
“I don’t think our kicking game was good, theirs was and we used a lot of energy through that and our attack was very lateral.
“(But) we’re confident where we are as a team. A bad performance today doesn’t make us a bad team.”
The Rebels took an early 3-0 lead via a Matt Toomua penalty goal but the Reds took control soon after with Jordan Petaia – playing for the first time since the death of his father – scoring in the 14th minute after running with pace on to a short McDermott pass.
The Reds continued to attack and were rewarded with another try in the 29th minute.
It was a 65-metre effort that started when fullback Jock Campbell fielded a bomb from Rebels winger Marika Koroibete.
Campbell charged through the heart of the Rebels defence before unleashing a long pass that found winger Filipo Daugunu.
The speedster continued the movement before unloading a deft pass to Paenga-Amosa, who crossed over to complete a memorable passage of play.
The Reds led 14-3 at the break but suffered a setback when centre Hunter Paisami didn’t return to the field for the second half after injuring his knee.
The Rebels were also hampered when influential Matt Toomua went off early in the half and failed to return to the field because of a neck injury.
Despite Toomua’s absence, the Rebels continued to ask questions of the Queensland defence, but the Reds weren’t to be broken.
The hosts’ determination was obvious when halfback McDermott – who had only just returned to the field after passing a concussion test – somehow held up Melbourne No.8 Isi Naisarani on the hour mark.
Naisarani seemed certain to score six minutes later but knocked the ball on over the line.
The Reds were reduced to 14 men in the 70th minute after Paenga-Amosa was yellow carded following a string of penalties against Queensland.
However, the Reds lifted, with Stewart scoring out wide soon after to seal the win and the bonus point.
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