The Queensland Reds have literally tackled the Melbourne Rebels’ pants off in a season-restoring 19-3 bonus point win to reclaim second spot on the Super Rugby AU ladder. The Rebels peppered the Reds’ line for almost 30 minutes to begin the second half for no reward.
Hulking forward Cabous Eloff was left exposing bright pink underwear to the Suncorp Stadium crowd when his shorts were ripped in another thwarted advance.
The Reds were tackled just four times in that period, losing hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa for repeated infringements along the way.
But they still managed the first points of the half, Hamish Stewart barging 35 metres in traffic to seal the result with five minutes to play.
The try was just reward for Stewart’s solid defensive night and earned the Reds a bonus point to jump ahead of the NSW Waratahs with three rounds to play.
The Reds’ stoicism came after leaking six tries last weekend against the Waratahs in a loss that dropped them to fourth and briefly out of the finals picture.
The Rebels could have left Brisbane on Saturday as competition leaders but instead dropped to fourth, two points behind the Reds and one behind NSW.
Reds back-rowers Liam Wright and Fraser McReight repelled the Rebels’ best efforts while plucky halfback Tate McDermott made two try-saving tackles to set the tone.
Jock Campbell was electric at fullback, his probing kick return setting up Paenga-Amosa after winger Jordan Petaia had scored the Reds’ first try.
Petaia was embraced after his dart over the line, the 20-year-old back in the fray after his father’s death last week.
The Reds didn’t exit unscathed though, centre Hunter Paisami left the field in the first half with another knee injury while Rebels playmaker Matt Toomua was replaced early in the second half after a head clash.
The Rebels have a bye next week, while the Reds will play the winless Western Force on the Gold Coast on Friday.
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