Round three of Super Rugby AU kicked off this weekend with the galvanising Queensland Reds edging the Western Force 31-24 at Suncorp Stadium. Coming off the back of a victory against arch-rivals New South Wales in round one and a gritty draw against the Melbourne Rebels in their next outing, the Reds were keen to put in a performance that would not only ensure victory, but play a style of rugby that would bring fans back through the turnstiles. 

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Coach Brad Thorn made a number of changes to his 23, seeking more power in the backline with veteran Chris Feauai-Sautia earning a start on the right wing. That allowed Jock Campbell to move to the full-back role. In the forwards, Angus Scott-Young, usually a back row, accompanied Lukhan Salakia-Loto in the engine room. 

Both sides looked to play some expansive rugby and despite an array of penalties and errors, a highly entertaining game of rugby ensued. The most pleasing aspect was the young talent on display, such as Dane Zander and Filipo Daugunu, coupled with veterans such as Feaui-Sautia and James O’Connor putting in quality shifts. 

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This was eventually enough to get the Reds over the line and leave them unbeaten in their last four outings, a streak they haven’t enjoyed since 2013. Here is how RugbyPass rated their players:  

15. Jock Campbell – 6.5/10

Just brings an honest effort each and every week and never takes the opportunity to play for Queensland for granted. While there were errors in his performance, they were errors of execution and not inability.  

14. Chris Feauai-Sautia – 8

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Best performance in a Queensland jersey since 2013. It was a controlled display but one not lacking in desire to impose himself on proceedings. Queensland started slowly, but his storming run down the right flank laid the platform for his side to score several phases later. If he backs up this performance with similar in the near future, he will push to add to his two Wallaby caps. 

13. Hunter Paisaimi – 6

Not his greatest night out but had some quality touches. He is the best angled runner in the Australian game yet uncharacteristically he dropped off the odd tackle and was given a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. 

12. Hamish Stewart – 6.5

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The most unheralded player in the Australian game. Despite one poor kick, Stewart was in everything without being spectacular. He plays a role for the Reds similar to that of Jack Goodhue for the Crusaders, acting as a distributor, runner but also as a fourth backrower at times. He brought all that tonight and did it well. 

11. Filipo Daugunu – 8.5

Man-of-the-match performance – he simply was the most threatening player in the game. Not only could he run in space, when receiving the ball in tighter situations he was consistently beating first-up defenders. He was solid in defence but showed his commitment to the cause when charging down a Jono Lance conversion attempt. Will look better in a Wallaby jersey. 

10. James O’Connor – 7.5

Ran his side well and more often than not took the right options. Is looking more and more comfortable in the fly-half role and his side is reaping the reward. 

9. Tate McDermott – 7.5

Another performance that will bring him closer to a Wallaby jersey. He played with energy and intelligence and looked to create opportunity for others, not just looking for opportunity that may be on for himself. Has a fine blend of running, passing and kicking acumen that were all on display tonight. 

8. Harry Wilson – 7.5

His numbers may suggest he had a quite night, but in context to the game Wilson was enormous in making the hard two to three yards to get his side over the advantage line consistently. There were the odd errors but, akin to Campbell, they were errors in execution not in inability. A good shift. 

7. Fraser McReight – 7

Inexhaustible performance, again showing he is more than capable at this level. He made twelve tackles and secured two turnovers. 

6. Liam Wright – 7.5

The most intelligent player on the field, he contributed to the cause by making his tackles time and time again, securing turnovers and nearly stealing a try when the Force were looking to exit from their line. It was the second time he nearly achieved that in this competition. 

5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – 7.5

Big night out for him and a definitive performance. Looked more astute in the locking role as opposed to back row. Was a giant in the lineout and worked himself in the tight while leaving enough in the tank to deliver some thundering runs in possession. 

4. Angus Scott-Young – 6.5

Brought plenty of linespeed in defence and played the workhorse role. Made a decent effort of playing out of position. 

3. Taniela Tupou – 7.5

A far more disciplined effort. His intent to bring physicality has at times cost his side in the past few rounds, yet he brought a greater control but no less grunt. A quality shift. 

2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – 7 

Scored a try out wide, but had his hand in Touopo’s by giving him the drive from behind to get over the paint. Starting to play the style of rugby that may see him add to his four Wallaby caps. 

1. Harry Hoopert – 6

An honest effort, worked hard in all the unfashionable areas and didn’t let his side down in the set-piece. Brought some good linespeed to pressure the Force in tight. 

Replacements: 

16. Alex Mafi – 6.5

Brought some energy when he came on, made his tackles. 

17. Dane Zander – 6.5

Impressed in the scrum as few props disturb former Wallaby Greg Holmes as he did tonight. Kid has a big future. 

18. Jack Straker – N/A

Not on long enough. 

19. Ryan Smith – N/A 

20. Tuaina Taii Tualima – 5

Did his job but needs to address his body height going into contact if he is going to go further at this level. 

21. Scott Malolua – 5.5

Did his job. 

22. Josh Flook – N/A

23. Bryce Hegarty – 6

Nearly scored a try running into a yawning gap but was just caught. Brought his calmness and experience to assist in closing out the match. 

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