Super Rugby: Reds comeback to draw 11-11 draw with Western Force
Last Updated: 04/05/13 3:11pm
A late Chris Feauai-Sautia try saw Reds comeback to earn a 11-11 draw with Western Force in Perth.
Ben McCalman had earlier run in a second-half try to give the hosts a 11-3 lead, following two penalties from Sias Ebersohn.
But Quade Cooper kicked his second penalty and Feauai-Sautia notched a touchdown to earn a share of the spoils for the Reds, who would have gone top of the Super Rugby table with a win.
Hopes of victory disappeared when Wallabies flyhalf Cooper's attempt for the winning points off a wide-angled conversion was pulled wide of the posts.
The draw keeps the Reds in second place in the Australian conference, a point behind the ACT Brumbies ahead of the Canberra-based side's Sunday match against the Crusaders.
The Force are in last place in the Australian conference with just two wins and a draw in 11 matches.
The Reds enjoyed the better of the opening quarter but they struggled to break down a well-organised and aggressive Force defence, and that narrative was to be repeated for long periods over the course of the 80 minutes.
The home side's resilience was exemplified by Pat Dellit, whose last-ditch tackle prevented Digby Ioane from touching down in the corner after the Force had failed to secure their own throw at a line-out.
Having weathered the early storm, the Force then began to edge into the contest as the half wore on, Ebersohn gaining valuable field position with some probing kicks on his recall at fly-half.
And it was the former Cheetahs man who opened the scoring just short of the half-hour mark by nailing two penalty shots to take the hosts out to a 6-0 lead.
Cooper did respond in kind for the visitors moments later to halve the deficit, but despite camping in the Force 22, the Reds found themselves unable to pierce the dogged hosts' defence and failed to turn their pressure into any further points before the break.
Ebersohn and Cooper then traded unsuccessful penalty attempts shortly after the re-start, but on 52 minutes a piece of trademark wing play from Nick Cummins produced the first try of the night for the Force.
Making his first appearance since round three, the 25-year-old powered his way through several tackles down the left touchline before off-loading to the supporting McCalman, who crashed over to claim his first five-pointer of the season.
Ebersohn, however, failed with a relatively straightforward conversion attempt and then compounded his error by straying offside in front of his own posts on the hour mark and handing Cooper an unmissable opportunity to bring the Reds right back into it at 11-6.
The Queenslanders then continued to pummel away at the Force line and finally broke through eight minutes before the end when Feauai-Sautia touched down in the corner, despite the Reds having appeared to knock the ball on several phases earlier.
With the scores locked at 11-11, Cooper was unable to land his conversion from the right touchline, setting up a frantic final five minutes.
But ultimately neither side were able to manoeuvre themselves into drop-goal range before the whistle sounded.