Queensland and New South Wales may be gearing up for Rugby League’s State of Origin next week but there can be no questioning the dominance Western Australia holds over the Queensland Reds in the Rugby Union code.
King Wally Lewis, Queensland’s ‘Emperor of Lang Park’, might have a challenger to his mantle in the shape of the Western Force, victorious 40 points to 26 over their eastern rivals in front of 12,040 bitterly disappointed fans at Suncorp Stadium.
The hapless Reds proved the architects of their own execution as a near-constant stream of errors followed a near-total lack of discipline, handing the Force their fifth win from eight fixtures between the two sides.
The Force were worthy winners as Wallabies lock Adam Coleman spearheaded a physical, accurate performance.
Queensland snuck out to an early lead as a Quade Cooper dummy opened the defence out wide for Duncan Paia’aua to score inside five minutes.
A ball-and-all try-saver denied Nick Frisby in the 10th minute but cruel hope had already spread like wildfire throughout the Suncorp Stadium crowd.
Accurate defence from the Force continued to frustrate the Reds on attack while the flawless goal kicking of former Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant kept the scoreboard ceaselessly ticking over.
A Stephen Moore high tackle was punished by Grant before Queensland were dealt another blow as Quade Cooper was denied the first of three TMO try decisions on the night.
Force centre Curtis Rona stripped the ball clear of Samu Kerevi and into the path of Cooper, regathering to score in the 30th minute, only to be adjudicated offside in a head-scratching decision.
Momentum swung back towards the Force as a second Grant penalty edged the Westerners ahead 6-5 in the 33rd minute.
An unforced error sent the Force to the corner, picking and driving through homegrown product Ross Haylett-Petty to score before half-time.
Nick Frisby got Queensland off to the best possible start in the second, gliding between tacklers to set up Cooper to fire a pass for support runner Lukhan Tui to score in the 42nd minute.
Force halfback Michael Ruru engineered a cunning reply by diving over the ruck to earn a penalty try for his side and a yellow card for the interfering Nick Frisby.
The Reds conceded a penalty but rallied to drive Stephen Moore over with twin rolling maul tries to net the Wallaby captain his fourth and fifth tries within four games and a 26-23 lead.
A flare-up between Moore and enForcer Adam Coleman disrupted play, breaking the home side’s concentration just enough to steal back the lead through Marcel Brache.
With the sides separated by just four-points, a poor high-tackle from Queensland winger Eto Nabuli called for the second yellow card of the match.
That card broke the Reds spirit and the Force quickly added a try to Tatafu Polota-Nau and a third penalty to Peter Grant to close out the match with an indomitable 40-26 scoreline.
The Game Changer
The yellow card to Queensland’s Eto Nabuli, his third for the season, consolidated the Reds’ position as the most-carded team in Super Rugby with 12 in 12 games. The inexplicable high tackle resulted in Nebuli’s third for the season. With the Reds down a player for 20 minutes of the second half, the Force rightfully kicked their hosts to the curb.
The G&GR MOTM
It’s hard not to love what Adam Coleman brings to the Western Force. A Tasmanian Devil in the truest sense of the phrase, the Wallabies would be foolish to leave this whirlwind of pain out of the starting XV. Peter Grant receives an honourable mention for his smooth game management and perfect 7/7 goal kicking display.
Matt Philip and Adam Coleman must be endearing themselves to Michael Cheika with their robust physical performances. It will make for an interesting Day One of Wallabies camp when captain Stephen Moore packs down alongside Coleman. With Moore the clear exception, #REDvFOR 2017 did more harm than good to the Wallaby prospects of the Queensland Reds, who now are eliminated from any discussion of Australian #1 seeds.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Duncan Paia’aua (5′), Lukhan Tui (41′), Stephen Moore (50′, 57′)
Conversions: Quade Cooper (42′, 51′, 59′)
Tries: Ross Haylett-Petty (38′), Penalty Try (44′), Marcel Brache (61′), Tatafu Polota-Nau (69′)
Conversions: Peter Grant (39′, 62′, 70′)
Penalties: Peter Grant (28′, 32′, 49′, 74′)
Cards & citings
Nick Frisby (44′), Eto Nabuli (66′)
If you’re a Western Force fan, it’s worth watching a triumphant story of little brother sticking it to the big guy. If you’re not so keen on swimming in a Sea of Blue, best steer clear of this one.