Super Rugby: Reds beat Rebels 33-20 to keep play-off hopes alive
Last Updated: 01/06/13 2:10pm
The Reds kept their Super Rugby play-off hopes alive with a hard-fought 33-20 win over the Rebels in Brisbane on Saturday.
A much-improved second half showing from the home side saw them comeback from a 17-13 half-time deficit to take the bonus point win.
James O'Connor and Quade Cooper traded early penalties before Reds flanker Beau Robinson was sent to the sin bin in the 21st minute for fighting.
The hosts then picked up the first try of the game as Luke Morahan intercepted a flat pass from Rory Sidey to race home unopposed.
The Rebels responded almost immediately, though, as Cooper failed to see Scott Fuglistaller racing up on his blindside as he prepared to make a clearing kick. Fuglistaller charged the kick down and was able to gather and dive over for the try.
With the scores level at 10-10, a Cooper drop goal two minutes before the break looked to have given the Reds the lead heading into the half, but the fly-half would soon be left red-faced once more.
Again it was a clearing kick that proved his downfall as he hammered the ball into Nic Henderson in front of him, with Sidey on hand to claim the rebound, with an O'Connor conversion putting the Rebels 17-13 up at the interval.
Cooper and O'Connor traded penalties early in the second half before the Rebels were dealt a hammer blow in the 51st minute when Scott Higginbotham was forced off the field with an arm injury.
The loss of their captain coincided with a marked increase in tempo as the Reds took control of both territory and possession in the final half hour.
They were rewarded for some attacking intent when Jake Schatz dived over from a maul and Cooper extended the home side's lead with a penalty.
He then made amends for earlier errors as he somehow managed to stretch out an arm and dot down in the 68th minute after a strong run.
The hosts then sealed the win with a bonus-point try from Ben Lucas in the final play of the match.
Super Rugby 2013 Round 16
The Bulls opened an eight-point gap at the top of the South African conference with a 30-25 victory over the Cheetahs.
The Highlanders ran in four first-half tries tries before holding on to secure a 38-28 victory over the Blues.
The Brumbies resisted a spirited Hurricanes fightback to run out 30-23 winners in Canberra on Friday.