Reds make his­tory with Dunedin win

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

DUNEDIN — The Queens­land Reds se­cured their first ever win in Dunedin and piled more mis­ery on the High­landers with a wafer-thin 34-33 vic­tory in their Su­per 15 clash yes­ter­day.

It was the Reds’ fifth win from seven out­ings, and with a four-try bonus point it keeps them firmly in the top six, while the High­landers lan­guish at the bot­tom of the ta­ble with no wins to show for their big spend­ing in the off-sea­son.

The de­ci­sion to splash out on buy­ing veteran in­ter­na­tion­als Tony Wood­cock, Brad Thorn and Ma’a Nonu to boost their All Blacks stocks to nine has yet to pay div­i­dends, and they are the only team to have lost ev­ery game.

The Reds, kick­ing for po­si­tion, then plough­ing to the line, led 21-16 at half-time with tries to James Han­son, Liam Gill and Jake Schatz, while Will Ge­nia added the bonus point touch­down 13 min­utes into the sec­ond half.

The High­landers, who briefly led 13-7 mid­way through the first half, were re­stricted to three tries scored by El­liot Dixon, Hosea Gear and Nonu.

In the clos­ing quar­ter, they closed to within one point of the Reds, but a match-win­ning try proved elu­sive as both sides ex­changed penal­ties in the dy­ing min­utes.

In the his­tory of Su­per Rugby, the Reds had never beaten the High­landers in New Zealand, but they made clear from the start that they wanted that statis­tic erased from the books.

They pa­tiently worked their way up to the High­landers line for hooker James Hansen to cross and Quade Cooper to con­vert for an early 7-0 lead.

The High­landers struck back with two penal­ties by Colin Slade, who also con­verted a deft try by Aaron Smith dart­ing around the side of a scrum, to briefly take the lead.

Although the Reds were not play­ing to their full po­ten­tial, they were mak­ing fewer mis­takes than the High­landers as they struck back with tries to Gill and Schatz, in the count­down to half-time.

A Cooper penalty and Ge­nia’s try pushed the Reds to a 31-16 lead be­fore the High­landers cut back their er­ror rate and made a fi­nal push to close the gap.

Con­verted tries to Gear and Nonu brought the home­side to within one point of the lead with six min­utes to play be­fore they let them­selves down again.

Given an at­tack­ing li­ne­out close to the Reds line, the High­landers lost their throw in, al­low­ing the Queens­lan­ders the op­por­tu­nity to kick them­selves out of trou­ble again.

When back in High­landers ter­ri­tory, Cooper landed his sec­ond penalty to push the Reds out to 34-30 be­fore Lima Sopoa­gan kicked a fi­nal penalty for the High­landers.

— Sapa-AFP.

PHOTO: GETTY

Reds scrumhalf Will Ge­nia off­loads the ball dur­ing his side’s Su­per Rugby vic­tory over the High­landers yes­ter­day.

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