After leading the way to a drought-breaking win, James O’Connor believes the Queensland Reds can beat any team in Super Rugby on their day.
Confidence is higher in the Reds camp as they head home from South Africa after a dramatic 18-17 triumph over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday (AEST) ended a six-match losing streak.
“We needed that,” O’Connor said.
“I feel it’s karma.
“It’s been a great tour for us, as a team we’ve really gelled and it’s been a long time coming.
“When we stick to our game plans and structures, we’ve proven we can score tries, attack and beat any team.”
They’ll get a chance to prove that big claim when they play the table-topping Hurricanes at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the win moves the Reds (2-7) off the bottom of both the Australian conference and the Super Rugby overall ladder.
Off-season recruit O’Connor played his best game in a Queensland jersey, crafting the openings for their two tries shortly after half-time to set up a barnstorming second half.
The Reds were down 10-0 early but clawed back and clinched the win with a Nick Frisby drop goal late on.
The Cheetahs had a chance to snatch victory at the death when Adam Thomson was penalised for playing the ball on the ground.
With just seconds remaining, Joe Pietersen’s attempt came off the upright, bounced back into play and into the safe hands of O’Connor.
“In terms of Pietersen, you feel for him somewhat but we’re really pleased with the win,” coach Richard Graham said.
“Getting to the end of the game, you don’t like to see a game decided (by a penalty) – and I don’t think we deserved the penalty against us.
“As a group we’re really proud of the efforts.
“It’s been a good tour for us as a group, we’ve really enjoyed the two weeks.”
It wouldn’t be a Reds game in 2015 without another injury, and the team’s curse in that department struck again, this time claiming Curtis Browning (knee) after just two minutes.
“I’m just super proud of the boys,” captain James Slipper said.
“The rugby gods are smiling down on us with that last kick.
“We were just happy to get the win with all the injuries.”