Cooper helps Reds end Stormers' unbeaten run
Queensland Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper kicked 14 points and centre Mike Harris scored a late try in a 19-6 win on Saturday which ended the Stormers’ unbeaten Super rugby run.
It was the visitors’ sixth win from seven matches and takes them to the top of the Australian conference in the southern hemisphere provincial competition expanded to 15 teams this year.
The match never lived up to its billing as a free-flowing encounter between two of the competition’s best back divisions and, instead, the 40 000 crowd witnessed an error-strewn battle of attrition.
“We needed to match up physically and that’s the mindset we came into the game with,” said Reds captain James Horwill. “We talked the talk and walked the walk.”
The Reds, who beat the Lions 30-25 last week, capitalised on the home team’s poor discipline, which resulted in forwards Duane Vermeulen and Deon Fourie collecting yellow cards for punching and tripping respectively.
The Australians opened the scoring with a penalty by flyhalf Cooper in the 25th minute after Stormers prop Wicus Blaauw attempted another trip on scrumhalf and man-of-the-match Will Genia.
Cooper, who attracted headlines in midweek when he turned out for a local touch rugby team, made it 6-0 on the half hour and then 9-0 three minutes later when home flanker Francois Louw went off his feet at a ruck.
The Stormers, who beat the Sharks in Durban last week to rack up their sixth win on the trot, were dealt a blow before kickoff when veteran skipper Jean de Villiers failed a late fitness test.
The disjointed home side missed De Villiers’ calming influence in midfield and it was left to metronomic kicker Peter Grant to get last year’s finalists on the board three minutes before the break with his first penalty.
Grant made it 9-6 in the 58th minute before the Stormers were hamstrung again with 13 minutes left when Fourie was yellow-carded for a trip.
Cooper capitalised on the indiscretion by slotting his fourth penalty and Harris, who kicked six from six last week from fullback, barged over with seven minutes left to end the home team’s resistance. - Reuters