Cooper stars for Reds but Force left heartbroken

Queensland Reds 32 Sharks 17 Chiefs 22 Western Force 21 Quade Cooper starred as a Queensland Reds first-half feeding frenzy sunk the Sharks. [more]

Cooper stars for Reds but Force left heartbroken

Queensland Reds 32 Sharks 17 Chiefs 22 Western Force 21 Quade Cooper starred as a Queensland Reds first-half feeding frenzy sunk the Sharks.

The mercurial fly-half was left out of a recent Australia training camp but he gave Robbie Deans another timely reminder ahead of the arrival of the British & Irish Lions.

He pulled the strings effortlessly, had a hand in all four first-half tries and booted 12 points as the Reds ran riot.

Wallabies Rod Davies and Faingaa twins, Saia and Anthony, all crossed in the Reds’ first-half rout.

The Sharks responded following the break but it was too little too late.

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The maximum-point victory ensured the Reds keep the pressure on Australian conference leaders ACT Brumbies.

"We’re very happy. We spoke all week a bit more about playing a bit more expansive rugby, a bit more creative rugby," said stand-in skipper Will Genia.

"We weren't too disciplined in our structures in the second half. All credit to them for forcing their way back into the game."

It took Cooper just six minutes to weave his magic for Saia Faingaa to cross and he launched the Reds second sensational try.

He ran the ball out of defence and released Chris Feauai-Sautia, who found livewire winger Digby Ioane in support.

The Stade Francais ace then cut inside and moved the ball to Genia, who grubberd into the path of on rushing Davies.

Within a matter of minutes a flat pass from Coop sent Anthony Faingaa over and they wrapped up the bonus-point six minutes before the break.

A Cooper kick caused chaos and a ferocious clean-out by the Reds pack saw the ball released to Davies for his second.

The Sharks were a different proposition in the second-half and fought back with tries from Piet Lindeque and replacement flanker Derick Minnie.

But Cooper slotted his second penalty on 73 minutes to dash any South African hopes of a thrilling comeback.

Western Force however, were not so fortunate and crashed to a heartbreaking 22-21 loss to the Chiefs.

They trailed 19-11 at half-time but fought back and had several opportunities to snatch the spoils at the death.

But the opportunities went beg and the defending Super Rugby champions clung on for a nervous win.

"You're always frustrated when you don't come away with the result," said Force coach Michael Foley.

"And one as close as that, you probably think about the little 'what ifs'.

"They're the things that run through every player's mind when you first sit in the sheds after a narrow loss."

The Force made the perfect start as Pat Dellit pounced on a Matt Hodgson mistake. But a Lelia Masaga try and the boot of Aaron Cruden kept the hosts in front.

Dellit crossed for a second try shortly after the hour mark to cut the deficit to a single point. The Force continued to create opportunities but they failed to capitalise on them to snatch the win.

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