Cooper rid­ing high

But star play­maker says poor fin­ish­ing could hurt the Reds in South Africa

Townsville Bulletin - - Rugby Union -

QUEENS­LAND have scored 13 tries in two romps head­ing into their South African t o u r , b u t a u d a c i o u s play­maker Quade Cooper has warned sloppy fin­ish­ing could bite the Reds as their Su­per Rugby cam­paign hots up.

Queens­land ce­mented their place on top of the Aus­tralian con­fer­ence by blitz­ing the Chee­tahs 41-8 for a record sev­enth straight win at home on Satur­day where t hey crossed for six five-point­ers but also botched al­most as many tries.

Five-eighth Cooper cre­ated the two most eye-catch­ing wasted op­por­tu­ni­ties which dan­ger­ous wingers Digby Ioane and Rod Davies failed to fin­ish.

Davies merely needed to catch a sim­ple last pass from Cooper to be­come the first Reds player in 16 years of Su­per Rugby to notch a hat­trick but spilt it cold 25m out.

‘‘ I think he was think­ing about his try cel­e­bra­tions,’’ Cooper half-quipped.

‘‘ I’ve been giv­ing it to him, I said to him ’ Hey what more do you want me to do? Do you want me to walk over the line and give it to you?’.

‘‘ You can’t give it to him too much but we have to work on those things – in some games that might be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a win and a loss.

‘‘ It’s all fun and laughs now but we have to go back to train­ing and work on that and make sure it doesn’t hap­pen again be­cause it might come back to bite us.’’

Ioane, a men­ace to the lum­ber­ing Chee­tahs through­out, had more work to do but should have been able to link with ei­ther Ben Lu­cas or Davies to fin­ish what would have been one of the most re­mark­able tries in the competition’s his­tory.

Hold­ing a 34-3 lead in the sec­ond half, Cooper, stand­ing just in­side the dead-ball line, pro­duced a 40m crossf i e l d k i c k - p a s s t o a n un­marked Ioane who raced 65m but failed to de­liver the last pace needed for Lu­cas.

The Reds had an ad­van­tage call from the ref­eree but the Wal­la­bies five-eighth was un­aware.

For sheer au­dac­ity, it even e c l i p s e d C o o p e r ’ s b a c k - handed 15m flick pass for a Peter Hynes try in the last round of 2010.

‘‘ If there’s space out there why not take it?’’ he said. ‘‘ If I could pass to him I would but I can’t pass 40m so I kicked to him and he nearly turned it into a try.

‘‘ Peo­ple might say it’s risky but if you trust your play­ers I don’t see it as be­ing risky.’’

Co a c h Ewen McKenzi e must now choose be­tween Davies, Luke Mo­ra­han and Kiwi re­cruit Mike Har­ris for the va­cant full­back role to play the Lions af­ter Lu­cas ( groin) joined fel­low No. 15 Peter Hynes ( knee) on the side­lines with a groin strain.

Three-quar­ters Will Cham­bers and Dom Shipperley, back-rower Liam Gill, prop Guy Shepherdson and half­back Ian Prior have been added to the Reds squad for the tour where they will play the Lions and top-placed Storm­ers.

On their re­turn home the Reds will con­front the de­fend­ing cham­pion Bulls and arch-ri­vals NSW.

• M e a n w h i l e , i n C a p e Town, the West­ern Force were struck by a virus and then knocked out cold by the Storm­ers in an em­bar­rass­ing 51-16 Su­per Rugby loss in Cape Town on Satur­day night.

F o r c e b a c k s N i c k Cum­mins, Gene Fair­banks, Al­fie Mafi and Pat Del­lit were laid low by a virus on the eve of the match, with Fair­banks hit the hard­est and un­able to take his spot.

But coach Richard Graham re­fused to use the un­timely sick­ness as an ex­cuse, la­belling his team’s de­fence soft af­ter watch­ing the Storm­ers run in six tries to one.

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