The Queensland Reds have scraped past a gallant Sunwolves outfit to record a precious 35-25 Super Rugby win on Saturday.
Reds back-rower Curtis Browning and the Sunwolves’ Kiwi import Derek Carpenter bagged two tries each, with the hosts doing just enough to book their third victory of the year – and their third on the trot at Suncorp Stadium.
It wasn’t an overly impressive performance from the Reds, who once again failed to convert their set-piece dominance into flowing attack- despite the late inclusion of Samu Kerevi, who was cleared to play at No.13 after overcoming a broken hand.
The Sunwolves were comparatively much slicker and inventive, and it might have been a different game were it not for their five-eighth Tusi Pisi’s inaccurate goalkicking (4 from 7 attempts) and two try-saving efforts by Chris Feauia-Sautia in the first half.
The crowd of 19,073 was the Reds’ biggest of the season, boosted by a chunk of travelling fans from Japan and local ex-pats keen to watch the expansion outfit’s first match on Australian soil.
Many had also come to see Test fullback Ayumu Goromaru, who along with Hendrik Tui was squaring off against some of his teammates from Japan’s World Cup team for the very first time.
But his night was abruptly cut short after 63 minutes, as he appeared to injure himself while failing to stop Sunwolves lock Liaki Moli’s try, which had dramatically levelled the scores at 25-25.
Instead of tackling the dreadlocked former Blues giant, Goromaru tried to bump him out of play and unsurprisingly came off second best, and was immediately brought off the ground clutching his shoulder.
Two minutes later, Cadeyrn Neville galloped 40 metres to the line to finish off a classy Reds turnover play, giving the hosts some much-needed breathing space.
Then Jake McIntyre nailed a 73rd minute penalty to effectively put the game to bed.
Queensland scored two tries to one in the first half but went into the break ahead 17-13, the Sunwolves closing the gap through consecutive penalties from Pisi.