February 21, 2015
Reds weather the storm
The Reds registered their first win of the 2015 season when they beat the Western Force 18-6 in Brisbane on Saturday.
After last weekend's disappointing performance when they suffered a humiliating 47-3 loss in their season opener to the Brumbies, the Reds were under pressure to deliver a win in front of their supporters.
Preparations for this game was also disruptive for the hosts but their was little evidence of this as they dominated proceedings from the outset.
With Karmichael Hunt stood down indefinitely by the Reds and James O'Connor a late injury withdrawal, coach Richard Graham had to rejig his starting line-up. Lachie Turner was moved to full-back from wing as Hunt's replacement, while Campbell Magnay came in to wear Turner's number 11 jersey and Nick Frisby took over from O'Connor at fly-half.
Turner also took over the goal-kicking duties for the 2011 champions and thrived under the added responsibility.
The former Waratah gave the Reds a 6-0 lead with two penalties in the 14th and 17th minutes but the Force struck back with a three-pointer of their own from Sias Ebersohn three minutes later.
The Force suffered a setback five minutes later when Chris Heiberg - who came on as a replacement for Francois van Wyk in the fourth minute - was sent to the sin bin for taking Will Genia out at a ruck on the visitors' five-metre line.
For the next 10 minutes play was restricted mostly to the forwards and the Reds were dealt a double blow when they lost the services of experienced Wallabies duo James Horwill and Ben Slipper due to an injured hand and concussion respectively.
Ebersohn drew his side level with another penalty in the 30th minute but the game came alive in the 35th minute when the home side's backs combined brilliantly for the opening try.
The move was started just outside their 22 when Chris Kuridrani gathered a kick before setting off on a run down the right-hand touchline. He beat a couple of defenders before throwing an inside pass to Chris Feauai-Sautia.
The powerful centre then offloaded to Samu Kerevi, who drew in a defender before passing to Turner inside the Force's 22. Turner still had work to do but kept his composure and bumped off a sluggish tackle from Luke Morahan before dotting down.
He missed with the conversion attempt but with the score at 11-6 at the break, the visitors were brimming with confidence.
Turner had a chance to add to his team's lead shortly after the restart, when the Force's front row were penalised for a scrum infringement, but his kick struck a post.
The hosts put that setback behind them and five minutes later Feauai-Sautia thought he had extended his side's lead when he crossed over after running onto a flat pass from Nick Frisby.
The effort was disallowed, however, as the television match official ruled that Frisby's pass had gone forward. The hosts' frustration soon turned to joy as they were awarded a penalty try shortly afterwards from the resulting scrum, after their pack put huge pressure on their opponents at the set-piece.
The rest of the half saw the Force upping the ante in a bid to get something from the match but the Reds did well to keep them at bay with a resilient defensive effort which secured them a deserved victory.