Super Rugby AU is back! And it is with a bang after two entertaining games on Friday. The Reds and Waratahs opened the season with Brad Thorn's men claiming a thumping 41-7 victory. The reigning champions Brumbies fell just short of a bonus point victory beating the Western Force 27-11 as Super Rugby returned to Perth for the first time since 2017.
Reds 41-7 Waratahs
The Queensland Reds opened their Super Rugby AU season with a comprehensive 41-7 win over the New South Wales Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium. The visitors opened the scoring early through skipper Jake Gordon, but it was all one-way traffic from then on, as Queensland ran in five unanswered tries to record a bonus-point victory in front of a crowd of 12,213.
Electric winger Filipo Daugunu scored a double in the win, while Alex Mafi also crossed the line in his 50th Super Rugby match. Waratahs scrumhalf Gordon dove over early close to the left-hand touch post, with Will Harrison’s conversion giving the visitors a 7-nil lead, before a ten-minute three-try flurry saw the Reds wrestle back momentum in front of their home crowd. Interim captain James O’Connor hit back with a penalty in the 6th minute, before Jock Campbell finished a long-distance effort to give Queensland their first five-pointer of the season. It was Wallabies winger Jordan Petaia who started the line-break, brushing off the Waratahs defence to streak down the right sideline, before some neat interplay between Seru Uru and O’Connor saw Campbell find the line.
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) February 19, 2021
Another Queensland try quickly followed, this time to milestone-man Mafi who burrowed his way through the defence from close range to score the eighth try of his Super Rugby career. O’Connor again converted to extend his side’s lead to 17-7 in the 14th minute. Daugunu had Queensland’s third minutes later after Fraser McReight broke the line and sent his winger over down the right touchline. O’Connor added another conversion as the Reds attack kicked into gear to propel the hosts to a 24-7 lead. A second O’Connor penalty goal made the score 27-7 with ten minutes to play in the opening half, before Izaia Perese was shown a red card.
It took until the 70th minute for Queensland to find their first points of the second stanza, as errors and ill-discipline plagued both team’s efforts. It took a stunning Moses Sorovi inside ball to break the stalemate, with the scrumhalf eventually sending a flying Daugunu over the line for his second try of the night. O’Connor continued his perfect record of the tee to give Queensland a 34-7 lead with 10 minutes to play.
It was just his second appearance for the Waratahs and first start.— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) February 19, 2021
Debutant Droasese capped the night for the hosts, diving over after the siren on the back of an O’Connor long ball. O’Connor made it a perfect seven-from-seven with the boot, slotting the final conversion to put the score out to 41-7.
Queensland Reds 41 (Tries: Daugunu 2, Campbell, Mafi, Droasese, Conversions: O’Connor 5, Penalties: O’Connor 2) defeated New South Wales Waratahs 7 (Tries: Gordon, Conversions: Harrison) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on 19 February, 2021. Crowd: 12,213.
Western Force 11-27 Brumbies
The Brumbies have defeated the Western Force 11-27 at HBF Park in Perth in a clinical display by the defending Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU champions. Some stout defence mixed in with a couple cracking tries saw the Brumbies run home as winners despite an impressive performance from the home side. Indeed, it was the Force who got the scoring going, skipper Ian Prior kicking the first of his two penalty goals on the night.
Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio levelled the scoring from the tee but wasn’t satisfied with points from the boot, the second-year playmaker slicing home for his first Super Rugby try off a sumptuous seed from his halves partner Nic White. Lolesio would add a second penalty to his ledger, giving the Brumbies a 13-6 lead heading into the break. The visitors then struck brilliantly after half-time, Len Ikitau turning the Force inside out and offloading to his centre partner Irae Simone who strolled home for the Brumbies second try.
Not beaten, the Force continued to barge at the door, but the Brumbies defence was up to the task and after some slick hands down the right wing, replacement Issak Fines-Leleiwasa put the finishing touches on the Brumbies win with a brilliant finish and putdown. The Force would add a try at the death, denying the Brumbies a bonus point but it was the defending champions night in the end, the visitors spoiling the Perth party, 27-11.
The Brumbies now look forward to their first home game of the 2021 season, welcoming the NSW Waratahs to GIO Stadium on next Saturday night.
Brumbies 27 (T: Lolesio, Simone, Fines-Leleiwasa; C: Lolesio 3, P Lolesio 2) def Western Force 11 (T: Cubelli; P: Prior 2)