James O’Connor and Tate McDermott produced a series of magical moments to lift the Queensland Reds to a record 57-5 bonus-point victory over the Western Force at Cbus Super Stadium.

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The Reds ran in eight tries to one in a dominant display on Friday night, with the result lifting Queensland to the top of the Super Rugby AU table. It was also their biggest win over the Force, bettering the 50-10 mauling in 2010. But more importantly it solidified the Reds as a genuine title threat.

Since losing to the Waratahs 45-12 two weeks ago, Queensland have posted impressive wins over the Rebels (19-3) and the Force. O’Connor had a hand in the first three tries against the Force with perfectly weighted offloads.

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McDermott then scored the fourth and fifth tries after catching the Force defence napping on both occasions. His first came with a snipe down the sideline after taking the ball from the breakdown. But he saved his best for the 64th minute when he took a tap penalty before weaving his way through the Force defence in a 40-metre run to the line.

The Reds have a bye next week before taking on the Brumbies in the final round in a game that could decide top spot.

The first half proved costly on the injury front for the Reds, with centres Josh Flook (shoulder) and Hamish Stewart (hip) forced from the field. Winger Filipo Daugunu got the ball rolling in the 16th minute when he crossed over after latching on to a neat inside pass from O’Connor.

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Daugunu scored his second try in the 29th minute when O’Connor offloaded while being tackled. The Force breathed some life into the contest with a rolling maul try from hooker Andrew Ready in the 43rd minute. But a yellow card to Force prop Kieran Longbottom in the 53rd minute proved decisive, with the Reds going on a rampage from that point on.

O’Connor saved his best pass for the 55th minute when he raised the ball high with one hand while being tackled in order to offload with a finger roll to Fraser McReight. The floodgates opened soon after, with McDermott’s double followed by a try to O’Connor himself. Bryce Hegarty and Tuaina Tali Tualima added to the Force’s misery in the dying minutes.

“We were due for one of those,” McDermott said. “We’ve been sticking it to this tournament for a while now and haven’t had that 80-minute performance (before tonight).” Force captain Ian Prior rued his team’s patchy display. “A tough day in the office today,” Prior said. “The Reds are playing well, they’re confident, and they made the most of their opportunities.”

QUEENSLAND REDS 57 (Daugunu 2, McDermott 2, Hegarty, McReight, O’Connor, Tualima tries; O’Connor 7 cons, pen) FORCE 5 (Ready)

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