Perese pulls Reds to trial triumph

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Izaia Perese has ensured the Reds didn't leave Ballymore red faced, scoring a late try to steal a 17-15 win over the Fiji Warriors.

Perese was the star of an otherwise dour affair, scoring a 75th minute try to level the scores after Fiji dominated the second half.

It was fitting that Perese scored the winner as he was the man levelling shots on defence and busting tackles with resolute leg drive throughout the 80 minutes.

That's more than what can be said for his teammates, who, with a few exceptions, struggled in the humid conditions.

Hamish Stewart played a superb supporting role, taking over from Jono Lance in the second half and slotting a tough conversion to put his side in front with five to play.Taniela Tupou drew first blood for the Reds. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelHis kicking was precise and defence precocious, Lance doing a similarly suitable job before him.

Outside of that trio, the Reds mirrored a Brumbies outfit that looked rusty at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Wednesday, as they struggled to work the kinks out of their attack.

The 85 percent humidity made working those kinks out tough as the ball was a supremely slippery one and that told in the first half, as neither side was able to string more than five phases together for the entirety of the term.

Coach Brad Thorn shared those concerns.

"The ball control, from our side, you just can't build anything if you can't control the ball," he said.
Chris Feauai-Sautia and the Reds struggled for continuity with ball in hand. Photo: Walmsley"If you watched the game it was pretty much our first phase - we were often losing the ball - it was like soap.

"But you are going to have wet, slippery conditions at Super Rugby so you have to learn fast how to look after that ball."

Lance had some weaving runs in attack and was exemplary in defence but his passing was astray at times, repeatedly catching Duncan Paia'aua off guard inside him.

A lean, mean Chris Feauai-Sautia caught the eye, dishing a couple of serious hits and busting tackles with each touch.

Up front James Slipper churned through as much work as any player on the field and Lukhan Tui kept tackling until he reached the point of exhaustion.

With Lance at the helm the Reds looked a touch rusty but they drew first blood early, prying the right edge before Aidan Toua made a break which took them into the Fijian 22.James Tuttle and Jono Lance had some teething problems. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelLance followed some pinpoint passing to put Toua away with a weaving 15 metre run that left the Reds five out, James Tuttle finding Tupou, who stepped inside to score in the 5th minute.

Some blown passes hurt the Reds when they threatened to split the game open through the next 10 minutes and the Warriors made them pay, Tuwere Vugakota burrowing over from short range in the 15th.

One penalty for either side left a 10-all deadlock at the break.

The Warriors dominated the third quarter.Izaia Perese scored the winner. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelThe Reds did not cross the halfway plane from the restart until the 58th minute, when, after pounding the Queensland line for dozens of phases, Ratunaisa Navuma forced his way over.

That set up the realistic possibility of a result in the Warriors' favour, which was not a foreseeable outcome at the beginning of play.

Queensland followed Fiji's lead by setting up shop in the red zone until the 75th minute, where four straight penalties was followed by a match-levelling try from Perese, Stewart and Teti Tela throwing crisp passes to create the space for the five pointer.

Stewart stepped up to slot the conversion from 10 metres inside the left hand sideline to secure the result in trying conditions.


Reds 17

Tries: Tupou, Perese

Cons: Tuttle, Stewart

Pens: Tuttle

Fiji Warriors 15

Tries: Vugakoto, Navuma

Cons: Malele

Pens: Malele