Reds go back-to-back in desperate win over Bulls

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Reds have staved off the Bulls with a desperate 20-14 win - a result that would have gone the other way in years gone by.

An Alex Mafi hit on Lood de Jager after the final siren, as the Bulls made one last push for the line, sealed the result in a scenario that often turned to heartbreak over the past five years.

Queensland trailed 14-3 when Andre Warner crossed for a try in the 25th minute and scored 17 unanswered points to claim their second win of the season, sending the 11,827 fans on hand home happy.

There were, once again, glimmers of a Reds team that will provide great hope for their loyal fan base.

Caleb Timu produced his best ever game in his fifth cap for the club, providing Queensland's chief source of go forward in an attack that, at times, looked stagnant.The Reds scrum tore the Bulls to shreds. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe 117kg No. 8 was simply superb in the first half, racking up 11 carries with 28 metres, two line breaks and three tackle busts to boot.

Taniela Tupou staked his claim as one of the premier props in Super Rugby, tearing the Bulls scrum to shreds and picking up 21 metres, a tackle bust and a line break from his eight carries.

Brandon Paenga-Amosa was similarly tireless - as was Liam Wright and Izack Rodda - and while Filipo Daugunu made some defensive blunders - which cost them their first try, he showed serious X factor with ball in hand.

Despite all of that, the match couldn't have started on a worse note for the Reds, with James Slipper penalised at scrum time in the fourth minute and Daugunu, in his first start, completely blowing a defensive read, leaving Warrick Gelant a stroll to the line.

Slipper quickly made amends for his early mistake in winning three scrum penalties and wrestling ascendency back for his side in that department, though repeated raids in the Bulls 22 provided no points in the opening 20, the visitors holding tight until Slipper finally pointed to the posts and Tuttle slotted a penalty to put Queensland on the board with 23 minutes played.Samu Kerevi was at his destructive best on Saturday. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe Reds were on the front foot largely thanks to Timu and Chris Feauai-Sautia's work with ball in hand but they couldn't crack the Bulls line and eventually turnover ball turned into points in the 25th minute when a lazy Izack Rodda tackle allowed Travis Ismaiel to slice the line and set up Andre Warner for a brilliant team try.

That opened up a 14-3 break for the visitors but Timu was soon rewarded, finally cracking the Bulls line to score in the 36th minute after a sublime no look pass from Tupou.

Queensland's line speed slackened when the second half resumed but Daugunu added a shot of adrenaline when he shot clear with a brilliant turn of foot from 60 out, dishing to Brandon Paenga-Amosa who then found an airborne Aidan Toua, the fullback diving over under the posts to give the Reds their first lead with 46 minutes on the clock.

The next 20 minute block was filled with missed opportunities but a dominant Reds scrum - winning penalties both with and against their feed - kept them in front.Caleb Timu was outstanding for Queensland. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyEto Nabuli bombed a superb opportunity to score with 10 to play but the scrum kept forcing referee Jamie Nutbrown to raise his left arm and eventually, a high tackle on Samu Kerevi saw Lance line up a shot at goal from 37 out in the 76th minute, which he duly slotted.

There were two very nervous moments in the six minutes that followed but a JP Smith pilfer penalty and a Mafi hit sealed the result for the Reds.

Remarkably, it's the first time they've won back-to-back matches since 2014.

RESULT

Reds 20

Tries: Timu, Toua

Cons: Tuttle 2

Pens: Tuttle, Lance

Bulls 14

Tries: Gelant, Warner

Cons: Pollard 2

Pens: