Quade Cooper returned to almost single-handedly guide the Queensland Reds to a 32-10 Super Rugby win over the Western Force in Perth, pressing some World Cup claims in the process
The star five-eighth has spent the past two months on the sidelines with a fractured shoulder, but scored 22 of the Reds’ 32 points in the victory over the Force at nib Stadium.
Cooper scored two tries, kicked three conversions and another two penalties in an outstanding all-round performance, combining sweetly with halfback Will Genia.
Cooper’s creativity and skill helped the Reds control the contest virtually from the outset and his flick pass also set up a first half try to Lachie Turner.
The win means that the Reds now move seven points clear of a Force team that seems destined for the wooden spoon.
Queensland finish the season at home to the Chiefs and away to the Waratahs, while the Force host the Brumbies and travel to Melbourne to play the Rebels.
Cooper will thus have two more Super Rugby matches to impress Wallabies coach Michael Cheika ahead of the abbreviated Rugby Championship and the additional Bledisloe Cup Test.
The Force dominated early possession and territory and earned three points to Sias Ebersohn, who later left the field with an apparent injury to his ribs.
But from that point it was all the Reds.
They had one try to inside centre Samu Kerevi disallowed but just minutes later he set up Cooper for his first five-pointer of the night.
Cooper added a conversion and penalty before setting up Lachie Turner for a try just before halftime with a clever flick pass.
The Force did get some relief, however, prior to the break with a good try to fullback Dane Haylett-Petty.
That didn’t stop the tide rolling the Reds’ way, though, and it took just seven minutes of the second half for Turner to eventually run in his second try that Genia and Cooper set up.
Then in the 63rd minute a blistering pass from Genia set up Cooper for his second try of the night. When he converted the Reds led 32-10 and that’s where the score remained.
MORE TO COME