Canberra - The Queensland Reds showed great resilience to fight off the ACT Brumbies for a 27-17 win to open their Super 15 season in Canberra on Saturday.
The Reds defended resolutely for much of the second half to hold on to a three-point lead and claimed a clinching try through replacement winger Chris Feauai-Sautia in the final minutes to take the opening Australian derby of the Super Rugby season.
Queensland, with Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper in great attacking form, outscored the Brumbies three tries to one and frustrated Ben Mowen's team with committed defence inside their own half after leading 17-9 at halftime.
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg had a night to forget, missing a penalty to level the scores with seven minutes left and then fumbling a high kick on his line and failing to pick up the ball for Feauai-Sautia to dash over for the match-sealing try.
Cooper caught the eye in the opening term with pinpoint long passes for the Reds' first two tries to winger Lachie Turner and fullback Aidan Toua and chipped in with 13 points from three penalties and two conversions.
Former Wallaby winger Turner, playing in his first match for the Reds since switching from the NSW Waratahs, had a great debut with the opening try and a ball and all tackle to prevent Mogg from scoring for the Brumbies in the 30th minute.
Former Wallabies skipper and open-side flanker David Pocock was solid in his first Super Rugby game since a serious knee injury 11 months ago.
“It's good to get a win in Canberra, it's a tough place to play and we are very pleased that we stuck to the game plan,” Reds' skipper James Horwill said.
“There were times in the second half when we were our own worst enemies, giving away silly penalties and making errors in our end, but it was pleasing that we stuck to it and got the result we were looking for.”
The Reds were in control until a yellow card to prop Greg Holmes in the 53rd minute with the Brumbies making the most of the numerical advantage through a try to Mogg to narrow the gap to 20-17.
In their first game under former Wallabies fly-half Stephen Larkham since the departure of their World Cup-winning coach Jake White late last year, the Brumbies didn't stray too far from the territorial-based game plan that took them to last year's final.
But the home side struggled to break down the Reds' dominant defence and coupled with handling errors they wasted several promising opportunities, particularly late in the contest.
“That was pretty disappointing,” Brumbies' skipper Mowen said. “We were out-enthused in a lot of areas and there were moments where the Reds created the turnovers and put pressure on us.
“Then we had that huge amount of momentum in the second half and weren't disciplined enough with the ball to convert it into points.”
The Reds take on the Waratahs next Saturday in Sydney, while the Brumbies travel to Perth to take on the Western Force. - AFP