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By Reds Media Unit
The St.George Queensland Reds have recorded their second draw of the 2013 Super Rugby season following a tight 11-all defensive battle against the Western Force in Perth.
The Reds haven’t lost a game since their round five encounter against the Force at Suncorp Stadium and a late try to replacement winger Chris Feauai-Sautia ensured they would keep that record intact ahead of next Friday’s home clash against South Africa’s Sharks.
The one try apiece result was dominated by defence although the Reds threw plenty of attack at the home side and spent large portions of the match inside the Force’s defensive 22-metre area without much reward on the scoreboard.
The Force led 11-3 heading into the final quarter of the round 12 Australian Conference derby but the Reds showed plenty of character to fight back with flyhalf Quade Cooper kicking his second penalty goal of the night before Feauai-Sautia tied the scores in the 73rd minute with a powerful finish near the right sideline.
It was a tense final seven minutes with both teams enjoying opportunities inside their opponent’s half although neither team’s defence would budge with the game ending in a stalemate after the Reds final attacking raid came to an end when scrumhalf Will Genia was tackled over the sideline.
Winger Digby Ioane joined Genia in producing a standout performance although Genia said the team needed to improve on capitalising on their opportunities.
“We need to get better at turning our possession into points. We built a lot of pressure for long periods of time but just found it hard to get over the line,” Genia said.
“We had three or four days off to prepare for this game because we knew it would be a tough battle. So, we are a bit disappointed on that front. They came out and were very physical and enthusiastic and credit to them.”
The Reds appeared to be first on the scoreboard when Ioane touched down in the left hand corner but a TMO decision ruled the winger’s toe had marginally brushed the sideline as he placed the ball across the line.
The Reds dominated territory and possession during the opening 15 minutes without any reward although there were positive signs with Jake Schatz, Dom Shipperley, Cooper and Genia all finding space behind the Force’s defensive line.
However, it was the home side who were first on the scoreboard with a string of early penalties giving the Force a 6-0 lead courtesy of two Sias Ebersohn penalty goals.
Ioane sparked the Reds with a linebreak deep in his own half and following a penalty four phases later, Cooper got Queensland on the scoreboard with his long range attempt.
Ioane again got the Reds on the front foot for their next attacking raid but despite huge pressure weren’t able to crack the Force’s defence with the home side going into the sheds at halftime ahead 6-3.
The Reds commenced the second half with the same attacking intent but it was the Force who scored the game’s opening try when they capitalised on a turnover to run the length of the field before No.8 Ben McCalman crashed over.
The Reds narrowed the margin to 11-6 following a Cooper penalty goal while the Reds bench, including the return of Beau Robinson for the first time in 2013, provided a strong impact in the closing stages before replacement Feauai-Sautia grabbed his late five-pointer.
The Reds have a short turnaround before taking on last year’s Qualifying Final opponents, the Sharks, at Suncorp Stadium on Friday 10 May.
Tickets for the Reds v Sharks match are available through Ticketek: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=REDS1313.
St.George Queensland Reds 11 (Chris Feauai-Sautia try; Quade Cooper 2 pens) drew Western Force 11 (Ben McCalman try; Sias Ebersohn 2 pens)