Quade Cooper and Will Genia reminded what might have been for the Queensland and what they could do again for the Wallabies as they dragged the Reds clear of wooden spoon territory.
In only his second match of the Super Rugby season, Cooper returned from a two-month absence due to a second shoulder fracture this year to orchestrate the Reds’ 32-10 win over the Western Force in Perth on Saturday night.
The playmaker was all class as he scored two tries, set up the other two and bagged 22 of the team’s points, and his combination with former longtime Wallabies halves partner Genia was a treat to watch.
While Cooper and Genia sent a reminder to Wallabies coach Michael Cheika that must be considered for the Rugby Championship Tests and World Cup, the win was just the Reds’ fourth in a tough season and they’re looking for a strong finish against the Chiefs and Waratahs.
“The World Cup is probably not really a focus for me at the moment and it’s not at the forefront of anyone’s mind,” said Reds coach Richard Graham.
“The team has put in a lot of effort and the season hasn’t gone the way we wanted to, but we did start the season with 14 injuries so we’ve struggled to build continuity with a combination.
“This win is a glimpse I guess of what we’ve been attempting to do all season.”
Force coach Michael Foley had impressed with the attitude of his team for much of the season despite just two wins, but he didn’t like what he saw against the Reds and hopes it improves at home to the Brumbies and away to the Rebels to finish a disappointing season.
“Attitude is central to what we want to see and that manifests itself mostly in the attacking contact area, the breakdown and in the line speed in defence,” Foley said.
“If we get that breakdown area right I think there’s enough signs there to suggest we can do something with the ball, but if we are getting slow ball we are running into brick walls and there’s just no point.”