Super Rugby: Reds repel late Stormers comeback to claim 22-17 victory
By Ben Hampshire | @BH92. Last Updated: 29/03/14 3:54pm
Queensland Reds held off a late surge from the Stormers to claim a 22-17 victory at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
The Reds dominated possession throughout and ensured the Stormers suffered a fourth defeat in as many games as their tour of Australia ended winless.
Quade Cooper contributed 17 points, including a drop-goal, to lead the Reds home, despite being outscored two tries to one.
Damian de Allende gave the Stormers the lead early on before Rob Simmons hit back with a try of his own for the Reds before Cooper's boot seized control for the hosts.
Despite building a 12-point advantage, the Reds were not safe as the Stormers launched a stirring comeback attempt, with Sikhumbuzo Notshe crossing the whitewash to bring the visitors within five.
The hosts held out to claim victory and the Stormers woes were further compounded as star full-back Gio Aplon was forced to depart in the first half with a dislocated shoulder.
It was the Queenslanders who made the stronger start on the home soil as they tested the Stormers defensive capabilities, yet Cooper was unable to make their efforts pay as his first kick of the night sailed wide.
Cooper's error proved costly moments later as the Stormers charged downfield from a turnover before Aplon picked out De Allende, who raced home the opening try of the match.
Peter Grant secured the extras with ease, but the Stormers fly-half squandered the opportunity to extend the advantage when his penalty from the halfway line failed to make the grade.
Despite the Stormers holding the points advantage, it was the Reds who dominated possession in the opening quarter and Cooper eventually got their scoreboard ticking midway through the first period as he bisected the uprights.
There was a break in play on 22 minutes when Stormers full-back Aplon took an awkward landing, which was not for the faint-hearted.
The Springbok international put his hand on the ground to prevent a fall but landed on his own arm, before medics created a makeshift sling with his shirt. It was later confirmed the 31-year-old, who will join French side Grenoble at the end of the season, had dislocated his shoulder.
As play restarted, the Reds continued where they left off, winning a scrum deep into Stormers territory before lock Simmons crashed over the line.
Cooper slotted the extras and added another three-pointer after the Reds took the lead, but Grant reduced the Stormers' deficit to three with a penalty on the cusp of half time.
Richard Graham's side pressurised the Stormers defence once again after the break and Cooper extended the Reds' tally 17 minutes as the visitors' indiscipline continued to prove costly.
Wallabies duo Will Genia and Cooper ensured the Reds remained on top with excellent game management and the quality of their axis partnership showed 15 minutes from time as Cooper dropped deep to strike a fine drop-goal as the hosts extended their lead.
Despite entering the final 10 minutes with a 12-point deficit, the Stormers were not willing to lie down in the final leg of their Australian tour.
As the Reds' discipline faltered, the visitors kicked for touch and found their second try of the night when replacement forward Notshe crashed over the line off the back of a driving maul.
Substitute Demetri Catrakilis' conversion from the left touchline brought Allister Coetzee's side within five points as they prepared to through everything at the closing stages of the match.
The Reds' defensive line remained intact though as they held out to claim victory which moves them up to ninth in the Super Rugby standings, while the Stormers four-match tour of Australia ended fruitless.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 7
The Sharks extended their lead at the Super Rugby summit with a 32-10 victory over an undisciplined Waratahs side.
The Bulls held champions Chiefs to a 34-34 draw in a thrilling Super Rugby affair at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Blues reached the summit of the New Zealand conference on Saturday with a 30-12 victory over the Highlanders.