James Horwill got his season off to a winning start as he ended 10 months of injury frustration by leading the Queensland Reds to a 23-18 win over the Bulls at Suncorp Stadium.
The Wallaby skipper put the 308 day injury lay off behind him as he saw out the opening 40 minutes before leaving the fray. At that stage the Reds were 13-6 ahead, yet were forced to hang on for dear life to claim the points on head coach Ewen McKenzie’s record equalling 120th Super Rugby game in charge.
“It was good to get the match out of the way. It is the last hurdle you need to tick off, actually playing a game,” Horwill told the Queensland Reds website.
“My body feels good and the hamstring feels fine. I’m happy I got through it and even happier we got the result we were looking for. I thought we were very enthusiastic and we just focused on trying to do the simple things well.”
But for a late call by the TMO after siren, ruling out what would have been a match-winning try for Byorn Basson because of a foot in touch. The Bulls would have completed a famous second half fightback.
The Reds host the top team in Super Rugby, the Brumbies, next weekend and with their three top players now back in the fold after injury, half-backs Quade Cooper and Will Genia and their skipper Horwill, they will be hoping to get back to the form that saw them lift the title two seasons ago.
Cooper picked up 18 points, including the vital second try, to steer the Reds to victory and Genia, in his second comeback appearance after knee surgery, carved out the opening for the opening score from full back Jono Lance.
The Reds face the British & Irish Lions in the tourist’s first weekend fixture in Australia on Saturday, 8 June at Suncorp Stadium. The Lions haven’t lost to Queensland since 1971.