The Queensland Reds will take bragging rights into their season opener against the NSW Waratahs after defeating their rivals 32-7 in Roma.
It's the first time the Reds have defeated the Waratahs as part of the 'Santos Festival of Rugby', rebounding after their narrow defeat to the Force.
The win was set up by a dominant first half that saw Les Kiss' side run the Waratahs all over the park to take a 29-0 lead.
They made their intentions known from the kick-off when Mac Grealy’s charge down nearly resulted in an early try.
Hunter Paisami entered the game looking to remind selectors of his class and his overeagerness cost him an early try in the eighth minute.
However, the centre couldn’t be stopped five minutes later, latching onto a great ball from Jock Campbell and running over Joey Walton for the opener.
It was one of several world-class from the fullback Campbell as he shredded the Waratahs' defence.
The four-Test Wallaby shrugged off a high shot from Dylan Pietsch, which saw the winger yellow-carded, producing a great solo effort to find the line to extend the lead.
2023 Wallabies debutant Matt Faessler crossed twice at the back of the rolling maul to finish the half with a 29-0 advantage.
A deliberate knockdown from Suli Vunivalu got the visitors on the board in the second half, with Reuben Keane awarding the penalty try.
In a tough night, the Waratahs can take confidence from their scrum, which was a constant advantage over the hosts.
It won three straight penalties on the Reds’ line but that’s where the dominance stopped as they couldn’t find a way through the defence.
The Reds’ scramble defence to force turnover after turnover would’ve impressed new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt, who made the trip to Roma to scout the action before he officially starts next month.
As both teams emptied their bench, the game broke down as the hot and humid conditions took their toll.
Tom Lynagh’s penalty was the lone score of the final 30 minutes as both teams turn their focus towards the season opener on February 24.
“It’s nice to get one and win the trial but the beauty is we meet them in two weeks so that’s when the biscuits are up for grabs," co-captain Liam Wright said after the match.
“I think the really pleasing thing is we found what worked and we stuck to it. I thought we exited really well and that got us into good position. Our maul went well and we just stuck to it.”
The Waratahs will have one final trial before the match, facing Shute Shield clubs Manly and Warringah.