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Reds Swamp Crusaders To Break Drought

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Reds Swamp Crusaders To Break Drought

Sydney, Feb 19 NZPA - The Reds savoured a rare win over a Super rugby nemesis in Brisbane tonight, bouncing back from a heartbreaking last minute loss to the Waratahs in round one by routing the Crusaders 41-20 at Suncorp Stadium.

The seven-time champions' stranglehold on the Queenslanders was finally loosened as a record-setting Quade Cooper inspired his side to a first win over the Crusaders since 1999.

A stirring four tries to two performances also represented the Reds' first victory against the Crusaders on home ground in seven attempts as the title favourites paid dearly for a shoddy performance.

The Crusaders have frequently dug themselves out of a hole on Queensland soil in previous years but not tonight as the Reds atoned for last week's final quarter 28-30 meltdown against the Waratahs by holding their composure throughout.

Ahead 14-6 at the break, the Reds maintained the rage to deservedly secure the four-try bonus point when the irrepressible Cooper -- who compiled a record 31 points -- intercepted an Andy Ellis pass to stroll between the posts with five minutes remaining.

The Reds were Crusader-like in their execution, capitalising on a wealth of turnover ball to run in some superb counter attacking tries, notably through speedster Rod Davies when lock Adam Byrnes was in the sinbin for delaying the Crusaders' opening five-pointer.

When Ellis dived over a minute after Byrnes was yellow-carded close to the line on the hour, a trademark Crusaders comeback threatened -- though only briefly.

Morgan Turunui swiftly picked up off a dropped ball and set Davies on an angled 40-metre run to the line to put the Reds out of sight at 34-13 before Cooper iced a compelling performance which saw him eclipse Elton Flatley's 26-point haul against the Stormers.

Cooper overshadowed All Blacks maestro Daniel Carter, who was also guilty of poor handling on the few occasions the Crusaders had meaningful possession.

Carter might have won the first half kicking duel but Cooper inspired and completed the decisive movement of the opening 40 minutes when an inside ball to Turunui set a 60-metre breakout try in motion.

Turunui found wing Davies steaming on the angle and although Jared Payne dragged the winger to ground, Peter Hynes latched on to the clean out and cleverly in passed to Cooper who touched down in the corner.

Cooper's try in the 34th minute was belatedly rewarded from the sinbinning of prop Owen Franks who paid the price for a succession of Crusaders infringements at the breakdown.

The Crusaders only had one potential try-scoring opportunity in the first half when Isaac Ross latched on to a Carter cross kick before being lowered 2m from the line. In keeping with the Crusaders' error-prone performance Ellis threw a forward pass later in the movement to ease the Reds' anxieties.

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