Reds' revival capped in crowning Super Rugby glory
- From: AAP
- July 09, 2011
THE Queensland Reds have capped their amazing transformation with a stunning 18-13 Super Rugby final triumph over the Crusaders.
In front of a record crowd Australian provincial crowd of 52,113 at a sold out Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the province who ended the amateur era as the best in the world finally broke through for their first professional title.
Halfback Will Genia inspired the thrilling victory with a bewildering solo 65m try in the 68th minute to break a 13-13 deadlock and then the Reds bravely hung on.
The players, coach Ewen McKenzie and a roaring home crowd celebrated wildly at the final whistle, delivering the first Super Rugby crown to an Australian side in seven years.
In a fairytale decider between the two regions who suffered natural disasters at the start of the season, the final was one hurdle too far for the nomadic Crusaders who were searching for their eighth, and sweetest, title in 16 seasons.
Queensland entered the professional era with back-to-back Super 10 titles but have suffered most of the past decade in the doldrums, finishing in the bottom three from 2004-09.
Their resurgence was sparked by the signing of McKenzie who again masterminded an affective plan to upset the visitors.
In a highly-entertaining spectacle, scoreless after 30 minutes and 13-13 after 55 minutes, the Reds scored two tries to one to defy the possession statistics.
The powerful Crusaders dominated for large periods and only flashes of brilliance from Genia and playmaking magician Quade Cooper kept the Reds in the contest.
It was a free-for-all at the breakdown as Kiwi referee Bryce Lawrence gave both sides plenty of latitude counter-rucking, which suited the Crusaders.
The Reds pack was also smashed by the best scrum in the business but their lineout was a tower of strength, scoring a number of crucial second-half steals as hooker Corey Flynn had an off night.
Both sides brought their attacking intent, with kicks at a minimum in a pulsating first half dominated by the tenacious counter-rucking.
Even the Suncorp Stadium turf, relaid almost three weeks earlier, could not cope with the frenetic start as a large square of grass lifted within the Reds 22 after a 14-phase wave of attack by the visitors.
It took until 32-minute mark for points to be registered with Cooper slotting a long-range three-pointer after Carter was penalised at the ruck.
But Carter immediately made amends by showing his class with a grubber and regather to cross and then plant the ball under the posts for an easy conversion after Cooper inexplicably pulled out of a tackle on the line.
The Reds did close the deficit to one at half-time thanks to another Cooper penalty goal after he was tripped by Brad Thorn.
Thorn, who ignored a four-man overlap, believed he scored the Crusaders second try after the break but was denied by the television match official.
Although Carter kicked another three points from an ensuing scrum penalty it was a turning point as Cooper put winger Digby Ioane over for the Reds first try soon after.
Ioane celebrated with a dance both after he scored his try as well as after fulltime, before suggesting it might be his farewell game.
“It's a massive turnaround, I've been down (with the team) in the darkest point and to see this glory, I'm happy to be around to see it,” said Ioane, who has received a $1 million per season offer from Japan.
“At least I've got a title under my belt and that's what you love.”
QUEENSLAND REDS 18 (Will Genia, Digby Ioane tries Quade Cooper con 2 pens) CRUSADERS 13 (Daniel Carter try con 2 pens) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Bryce Lawrence. Crowd: 52,113.