Ben Lucas has been filling in at halfback for the injured Will Genia. Image courtesy of Peter Wallis/News Ltd
The Queensland Reds were probably the better team for three-quarters of their 25-17 Super Rugby win over New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. Now that they’ve broken their duck for season 2013, they host a second straight match at home this Friday evening when the Wellington Hurricanes visit Brisbane.
The Reds have an awful record against the Hurricanes having won just once in the teams’ previous nine meetings, including a 28-26 loss across the Tasman in their title-winning 2011 season when the sides last met. The days when Wellington could call on the likes of Tana Umaga, Ma’a Nonu and Piri Weepu are now a distant memory, but the ‘Canes showed last year they can still match it with the best in the business finishing just outside the playoff spots in eighth place with an inexperienced side.
They were the competition’s top try-scorers last season, but the 2013 version looked relatively pedestrian in the opening round against a resurgent Blues team, doing down 34-20 after leading 13-11 at halftime . Even with the benefit of a slightly controversial penalty try, Wellington couldn’t hold on to a 20-16 lead in the final 20 minutes as Auckland gave new coach Sir John Kirwan a winning start in his new post as Blues boss.
Queensland looked equally out-of-sync in its opening match against the ACT before the Reds found their feet against the Waratahs. Quade Cooper had some extra space to work in while Ed Quirk was an absolute revelation producing a number of crashing runs, including a late break which set up two-try hero Ben Tapuai for the game sealer. Chris Feauai-Sautia at outside centre also showed why the teenager has earned the nickname ‘Beast Mode’ at such a young age producing some great bullocking work throughout the match. The performances of those two will make it difficult for Wallaby Anthony Faingaa (hand injury) to force his way back in to the starting line-up anytime soon.
Two of the last three matches between the teams finished with 65 total points while there were 54 points scored in the 2011 contest.
Click here to bet on Super Rugby matches