The Queensland Reds claimed their first Super Rugby title with a hard fought 18-13 win over the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Playing in front of an Australian record-breaking crowd of 52,113, the Reds were determined to claim their maiden title on home soil but had to endure a nervy 70 minutes or so until Will Genia made the game safe with an opportunist’s try.
“We knew the Crusaders would just keep coming, they’re a quality side but I’m just lost for words,” said Reds skipper James Horwill.
“This team, all year people have doubted us and said we couldn’t do it. Well tonight I think we showed them we can. And we did it.”
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw was magnanimous in defeat but did point to a few errors which proved costly for his side.
“I think I said before the game it would come down to one or two opportunities and that’s the way it turned out,” he said.
“A couple of lapses and they made us pay and that’s what finals footy is about.”
After Quade Cooper had given the Reds the lead with a penalty, Dan Carter put the Crusaders ahead with a try following a piece of individual skill that saw him kick through for himself. The out half converted the resulting conversion before Cooper responded with another three pointer to leave the score 7-6 at half time.
The Kiwis struck first in the second period as Carter was accurate with the boot again but it was the Queenslanders who crossed the try line next as winger Digby Ioane burst through to touch down under the posts. Andy Ellis’ box kick was fielded by Genia who in turn switched play from right to left, giving Ioane plenty of space to exploit and he duly obliged.
Another Carter penalty made it 13 points apiece as a nervous tension reverberated around the stadium, local hearts were soon racing with joy as Genia raced from his own ten metre line to outstrip the entire Crusaders defence to touch down. Cooper failed to convert but the try proved to be enough as the Reds defence held firm despite a late Crusaders onslaught.