Cooper sees red as Reds thrashed in Johannesburg

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Reds have been dealt a serious reality check in Johannesburg, smashed from top to tail in a 44-14 loss to a rampaging Lions outfit.

A Quade Cooper red card signalled the end of any hopes Queensland could harbour a comeback, though there were no signs they were capable of the rugby required to manage said comeback in the 46 minutes the flyhalf was on the field.

The Reds admirably tried to fight fire with fire and run the ball whenever the opportunity presented itself but there was a clear lack of polish and willingness to go forward before looking wide which made the attack predictable.

The Lions met the Samu Kerevi-inspired attack with waves of strong, organised defence that appeared to cope comfortably.Courtnall Skosan scored four tries in the Lions win. Photo: Getty ImagesCouple the lack of firepower with a diabolical defensive performance which featured 31 missed tackles and it's easy to see how the Lions were able to run in seven tries to two.

For all the talk that this Reds squad generated pre-season, performances like tonight's are a stark reminder of the 2014-16 teams which were consistently flogged outside of the comfy confines of Australia.

Trailing 15-0 after tries to four-try star Courtnall Skosan and Jaco Kriel bookended a disappointing first-half for the Reds, the floodgates opened when the teams re-emerged from the bowels of Emirates Airline Park.

A cynical penalty from Eto Nabuli and subsequent yellow card as the Reds were scrambling defensively was a minor blow one minute before the knockout punch of Cooper's red card.

The flyhalf threw a swinging arm at Rohan Janse van Rensburg as he scored which made contact with the head.Rohan Janse van Rensburg slices through the tackle of Karmichael Hunt. Photo: Getty ImagesAny hopes of a comeback evaporated as Cooper hit the showers, Malcom Marx scoring five minutes later to open up a 25-0 lead.

Lions winger Skosan nabbed a superb bag of four tries as the home side embarrassed the Reds in the remainder of the match.

The visitors failed to fire a shot by the way of scoreboard pressure until the 69 minute mark.

Duncan Paia'aua finished a neat backline move to score before Taniela Tupou forced his way over, though both tries were nothing more than consolation value.

The disastrous result was compounded by an injury to captain James Slipper.

The ground appeared to give way under Slipper's feet before he painfully limped off field with 11 minutes to play in the first half.

Post match, a dejected Slipper feared he may have torn his achilles or calf.

RESULT

Lions 44

Tries: Skosan 4, Kriel, Janse van Rensburg, Marx

Cons: Jantjies 2 Coetzee

Pens: Jantjies

Reds 14

Tries: Paia'aua, Tupou

Cons: McIntyre 2

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