The Queensland Reds are breathing a sigh of relief after escaping potential Super Rugby embarrassment against the Sunwolves.
But their star Japanese import Ayumu Goromaru has been sent for scans after copping a crunching hit to his shoulder in Saturday’s 35-25 victory over the gallant expansion outfit at Suncorp Stadium.
Goromaru’s injury, which forced him off the ground midway through the second half, left a sour note on a thrilling contest between the battling Reds and the visiting Sunwolves, who threatened to score an upset in front of 19,073 fans – Queensland’s biggest crowd of the season.
While Reds back-rower Curtis Browning and the Sunwolves’ Kiwi import Derek Carpenter bagged two tries each, the hosts did just enough to book their third victory of the year.
“We did a lot of really good things and, at the same time, we let ourselves down,” interim co-coach Matt O’Connor said.
“We were better, ball in hand – we created a lot of opportunities.
“It was disappointing to let them into the game but happy with our composure in the end.
“The neutrals would have enjoyed it, it was a fair spectacle.”
All the pre-match hype was around the clash between Goromaru, Hendrik Tui and their teammates from Japan’s stunning run at last year’s World Cup.
But Goromaru’s night was abruptly cut short when he failed to stop Sunwolves lock Liaki Moli’s try in the 63rd minute, which had dramatically levelled the scores at 25-25.
Instead of tackling the dreadlocked former Blues’ giant, who was closing in on the right corner, Goromaru tried to bump him out of play and unsurprisingly came off second best.
Goromaro tried to play down the concerns after the match, saying the injury was “no problem”, but doctors will have the final say.
He added that he couldn’t explain what he was trying to do by shoulder-charging Moli.
Two minutes after the incident, Cadeyrn Neville galloped 40 metres to the line to finish off a Reds turnover play, giving the hosts some much-needed breathing space.
Then Jake McIntyre nailed a 73rd-minute penalty to end the Sunwolves’ chances.
Queensland scored two tries to one in the first half but went into the break ahead only 17-13, the Sunwolves closing the gap through consecutive penalties from five-eighth Tusi Pisi.
It might have been all different were it not for Pisi’s overall inaccurate goalkicking and two try-saving efforts from Reds winger Chris Feauia-Sautia.
Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett said despite the disappointment of the loss, it was their best performance against an Australian side.
“We didn’t get it all right by any means, but the attitude is always right,” he said.
“It’s another effort that the Sunwolves and Japan rugby should be proud of.”
The Reds look forward to a bye and won’t play again until their away clash on July 1 with the Brumbies.