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‘Icing on the cake’: Reds skipper reacts to ‘satisfying’ shutout win

By Finn Morton
Reds celebrate a Suliasi Vunivalu try after the final siren during the round nine Super Rugby Pacific match between Queensland Reds and Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium, on April 19, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Reds captain Liam Wright has reacted to Queensland’s “satisfying” 31-nil win over the Highlanders at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in a candid interview with Wallabies great Tim Horan on Friday night.

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Queensland got off to a red-hot start with Wallaby Hunter Paisami scoring a couple of minutes into the contest. It was the first blow that landed but one that seemed to knock the wind out of the visitors.

Fly-half Tom Lynagh added a penalty goal in the 18th minute before milestone man Ryan Smith crossed for the Reds’ second try of the night later in a dominant opening 40 from the hosts.

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While the Highlanders looked a little bit more threatening after the break, they never really came close to scoring. It was all one-way traffic as the Reds secured a bonus point with another two tries.

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Wallaby Suliasi Vunivalu secured all five points for the Reds with a try after the full-time siren. The Queenslanders were all smiles after the match as captain Liam Wright stepped away for an interview.

As Wright discussed, this wasn’t necessarily a must-win game for the Reds but they were “desperate to win” for one another following a disappointing run of three defeats from as many starts.

“The Highlanders are a great team. To keep them scoreless tonight I thought was a resounding effort from our (defence),” Wright said on Stan Sport after the match.

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“Sort of spoke during the week, we’re not by any means in desperation stages but we were desperate to win for each other. We wanted to really put in for each other and show up for our squad, our fans, our families.

“I’m really proud of the way the boys showed up tonight.

“The conditions were really slippery as you saw, a lot of ball dislodged in the tackle,” he added.

“We trusted our defence, at times more than we wanted to… our set-piece showed up, our forwards worked really hard for each other and the backs just put the icing on the cake.”

While the likes of Ryan Smith, captain Liam Wright and Wallaby Hunter Paisami stole the show with some especially impressive performances, make no mistake, this was a team victory for the Reds.

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The Highlanders were kept scoreless for the first time in a Super Rugby match since 2019 and it was also Queensland’s biggest-ever win over the Dunedin-based outfit.

One of the moments of the match that may have come and gone without too much appreciation involved fullback Jock Campbell. The Australia international came up with a play during the first-half which sums up the Reds’ night.

Connor Garden-Bachop kicked the ball over Campbell’s head as the Highlanders wing looked to secure a stunning chip-and-chase try. The New Zealander reeled in the kick but didn’t score.

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But Campbell, who never gave up, managed to apply just enough pressure on Garden-Bachop to help make the tackle before getting back up to secure a penalty at the breakdown inside the Reds’ 22.

“A bit of a bounce back for the last couple of weeks and I think we owed that to our fans and ourselves to be honest,” Campbell told former Wallaby Morgan Turinui post-match.

“We’re very happy.

“We spoke all week about being personally accountable because the last couple of weeks it’s been individual errors, not necessarily forced errors,” he continued.

“It’s a big focus for us to sort out our own backyard and I thought we did that really. We played well.”

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