Goromaru injured as Reds edge Sunwolves, Chiefs crush Rebels to go top of Super Rugby
Queensland Reds back-rower Curtis Browning scored two tries to cancel out two from Sunwolves Kiwi import Derek Carpenter as the Brisbane outfit beat their Tokyo-based visitors 35-25 on Saturday.
Japan’s Ayumu Goromaru started at fullback for the Reds and contributed two penalties and two conversions before going off injured in the 57th minute.
Many among the crowd of 19,073 – the Reds’ biggest this season including hundreds of travelling fans from Japan – were there to see Goromaru face off against some of his Brave Blossoms team-mates for the first time since the Rugby World Cup.
The Reds got off to a strong start and were leading 10-0 after 16 minutes, but the Sunwolves kept pace and trailed by just four points at the interval.
The home side kicked off the second period with Browning’s second try of the match to lead 22-13, but the Japanese tyros hit back with a try from Carpenter followed by that dramatic score from Moli.
The Reds finished stronger with a converted try to lock Cadeyrn Neville and a penalty from Jake McIntyre to make the game safe.
The hosts were boosted by the return from injury of prospective Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi but the Sunwolves gamely gave as good as they got as they chased only their second win of their inaugural Super Rugby season.
The Reds were unable to convert set-piece dominance into quality ball for their backs and the Sunwolves, playing for the first time in Australia, looked at times more inventive in attack making 11 clean breaks to the Reds’ four.
The Sunwolves could have finished even closer in the end had their fly-half Tusi Pisi kicked more successfully than his four-from-seven tally. Chris Feauia-Sautia also made two try-saving tackles in the first half to deny the lively Japanese visitors.
“The Sunwolves are a dangerous team and we let them into the game a little too often and probably let ourselves down with inaccuracies in defence. But it was good to see the composure at the end to close it out,” said Reds co-interim head coach Matt O’Connor.
Later in Hamilton, the Chiefs rediscovered their high-octane attack for long enough to secure a 36-15 bonus-point victory over the Melbourne Rebels which put them top of Super Rugby’s Australasian group.
Coming off a bye after defeat to the Highlanders in their last outing, the Chiefs had the Waikato Stadium cowbells clanging from the fourth minute when centre Seta Tamanivalu cut inside two defenders to score their opening try.
The two-time champions also had scores from returning two-cap All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris, fly-half Aaron Cruden and winger Toni Pulu in the first half, while Andrew Horrell crossed for their sole effort after the break.
Fullback Mike Harris scored nine of Melbourne’s points with a converted second-half try and a penalty but the Rebels got no reward for their considerable effort and slipped further back in the race to top the Australian conference
In a late Australian match between the bottom-placed teams in each of the Australian and New Zealand conferences, the Auckland-based Blues beat Western Force 17-13.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Reuters