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Reds earn home final but Cooper in doubt

NOT DONE YET The defending champion Reds have come from the clouds to earn a home final next weekend with a four-try bonus point win over the Tahs. The bad loss at home by the Brumbies to the Blues opened the door and the Reds end up on top of the Australian conference on the back of a six-game winning streak. They will get a qualifying final in front of their home fans after entering this final round with their fate completely up in the air. "We spoke all week about trusting the process," said man-of-the-match Will Genia. "We worked hard all week and it's come to fruition for us."

QUESTIONS OVER COOPER Now the final is secure, all eyes turn to Quade Cooper. The Reds superstar was sent to the bin and reported for a high shot on Berrick Barnes in the 64th minute. Barnes wobbled off the field but the tackle didn't look particularly bad. That won't matter with the SANZAR judiciary, though, who can come up with some seriously left-field calls (ask Digby Ioane). Good, bad or in-between, the fact is the Reds are in the finals but Cooper is in real danger of missing the game.

"It was some tough defence out there, a very physical match," Cooper tells Fox, ducking questions over his tackle like he's goose-stepping a defender.

INTO THE ABYSS The Waratahs just lost their eighth game in a row. They looked pretty decent at times late in the first half but never really came close to the intensity and execution required in the second half, when the Reds had everything to play for. The team, the coach and the organisation will now come under some serious pressure after a season that produced four wins, 12 losses and a whole heap of questions.

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FULLTIME Reds 32 Waratahs 16.

80th min Siren has gone here but the Tahs still having a go.

78th min Harris is better when nobody puts on much of a chase. He knocks the penalty ove and the Reds lead 32-16. They are going to big back here next week in the finals. The big question is will Quade Cooper be available after his report for a high shot on Barnes?

76th min Good go here for the Reds. Wallace-Harrison crashes over, held up but the penalty is whistled. Genia has no hesitation this time - he points at the posts and Harris will take the shot now that bonus point is safe and sound.

73rd min TRY for every Reds fan's favourite Waratah, Tom Carter. Just way too much ball for NSW and McKibbin throws a good pass to put Carter over in the corner. McKibbin's kick can't get there. It's 29-16 as Cooper rejoins play after his yellow card.

71st min Turner slammed into touch but yet another penalty for the Tahs. This time for the Reds collapsing the scrum a while ago. Play had gone on so far I forgot they even had one. The Tahs have to score now. Massive pressure and the Reds still a man down on their line. They lead 29-11.

70th min Another penalty for the Tahs. Right in front but obviously they aren't interested in a shot at goal.

68th min Hanson replaces Faingaa for the Reds, who are still down to 14 men with Cooper tweeting from the sin bin. Now a penalty against the Reds from the scrum as the Tahs provide a good shove. Foley kicks for touch. Now or never for them surely. Reds lead 29-11.

66th min The Tahs trucking it up midfield but Reds fans probably have some need to worry about the fate of Cooper, who was given the white card as well as the yellow. Trying to work out what the SANZAR judiciary will do is like picking roulette numbers. And Ioane wasn't exactly given a let-off at the start of the year. Tahs threatening now. A try for them would make things very interesting.

64th min Barnes off now as well. Walked off with the trainers. Chance for the Tahs with the Reds down a man? Reds lead 29-11.

63rd min Change for the Tahs. McKibbin on for Grayson Hart. And a bit of a stink. Cooper high on Barnes and it kicks off. Barnes still on the deck. Didn't look to rough but Barnes has obviously had some issues with his head. It's on report and Cooper gets a yellow card. This is huge - in danger of missing next week. Boy oh boy.

59th min Harris needs to kick faster. It's nearly getting charged down every time he fires. He'll get tackles before he strikes the ball. Misses that one. Not his best night. Reds lead 29-11 as Beau Robinson takes the field against his old team.

59th min TRY to the Reds. Genia just picked it up from the scrum and scooted down the short side. Dived over and just made it before he was taken into touch. The Reds looking the goods now. It's 29-11 with Harris et to kick.

58th min Reds held up. Almost the entire side piled in, Cooper included. But the respite doesn't last... I think Genia may have scooted over. It's gone upstairs.

56th min The Reds still throwing it around. Cooper just did a goose-step before he even got the ball then. None of it looked particularly convincing though but here go the Reds again after Cooper launches a big punt down the field. Can the Tahs hold on...

53rd min Jono Jenkins bounds on enthusiastically for the Tahs, Alcock off injured. Tahs need something soon.

52nd min Harris kicks it. It's 24-11 to the Reds. Let's see if their tactics change now the four-try bonus point is in the bank.

51st min Hold on.... Shipperley thinks he's scored for the Reds! Barnes fired a long pass and it was put down by... just checking that, it was Mitchell.. and the winger races away. It's official TRY for the Reds and that's four! They lead 22-11 with the kick to come. Equation changes again. Reds just need to win now.

49th min Greg Holmes with some good work at the breakdown and the Reds win the penalty as the Tahs mount an attack. Got his arms in there and the Reds appealed like they'd just taken a slips catch. But the Wallace-Harrison pass on the counter-attack. Genia gives him a massive spray. Not happy with that loose carry at all. Reds lead 17-11.

46th min Harris misses the kick but the Reds have try number three. One to go providing they can hold on for the win. Silly stuff though as the Reds lose it on the re-start.

44th min TRY to the Reds! Awful throw from Polota-Nau, or maybe the Tahs didn't get the call, but it sailed right to James Slipper who romps over to continue his try-scoring run. Reds lead 17-11 as Harris lines up this kick.

42nd min Cooper's pass is forward as the Tahs rush up but it goes back for a penalty. Quick tap for the Reds. It was on the wide angle. Reds lead 12-11 as Higginbotham thundered into touch. Great defence on their line from NSW.

41st min We're back for what could be the final 40 minutes of Queensland's title reign if they can't get two more tries and the victory. The Tahs in this up to their eyeballs but they turn it over on the restart. Some early ball to the Reds.

HALFTIME Reds 12 Tahs 11. The Reds have two tries and are halfway to their bonus point. But the Tahs are right in this. Cooper tells Fox at halftime he thinks they are tired. The Reds better hope he is right. Join us for the second half.

39th min Comedy central. Both sides drop it 12 times each before the Reds finally get a scrum feed 22m out from their line. Will try to kill it here I'd think. They need the break.

38th min The Reds attacking and being careful and are done yet again for a penalty when they have the ball. That's their fourth penalty in attack and Genia isn't happy with Steve Walsh. Costing them dearly at the moment as the Tahs regain some momentum midfield. Reds 12 Tahs 11.

34th min All happening. Dust-up on the far side as Ioane and Hart push and shove. Cooper attacks from the penalty, loses it, Reds get it back, give it away again and then Ashley-Cooper smashes over a 40m field goal out of nowhere. It's 12-11. Reds losing the plot a bit here and the Tahs having a real crack.

32nd min The Reds not making a good fist of their extra man. Lachie Turner alert over the ball and the Reds get pinged yet again in possession. McKenzie will be filthy with that. Now Timani loses it for the Tahs though. Everything fizzing out at the moment.

29th min TRY to the Tahs! Lovely move from them and they are back. Drew Mitchell chases the little grubber from Foley and Shipperley couldn't turn quickly enough. Great vision from Foley and it's the Reds leading 12-8.

27th min Harris misses the sideline kick. Almost had it charged down as well. No change to the score but crucially, the Reds have two tries and the Tahs have 14 men with Ryan in the bin. Reds 12 Tahs 3.

26th min TRY to the Reds. Liam Gill emerges from under a mountain of men and the Reds are halfway there. It's Reds 12 Tahs 3. The suspense builds at Suncorp.

25th min Trouble here for the Tahs. Reds penalty and Paddy Ryan gets the yellow card for the professional foul. Now's the time for Queensland as they take the tap just metres out.

23rd min Cooper with the big play. Chips in his own half, chases and wins a penalty for his side. Now the Reds get some ball but the line-out has been a bit wonky. Still, they are back in control.

20th min Could be a try for the Tahs! Alcock charged down the clearing kick from Genia, who took forever, but Dom Shipperley has saved the day. Somehow he got the boot to it and that's a massive moment there. It is no try and the Reds start it again from the 22m line. They lead 7-3 but all Tahs at the moment.

17th min Pilfer comes from Adam Wallace-Harrison and Genia thumps it away. Reds avoid real danger at that point. The Tahs have worked their way back into this game with some adventurous play. Where's that been all year?

16th min Enterprising play from the Tahs. Yes, I just wrote that. Hart wasn't switched on for Polata-Nau's little pass on the short side but it might have worked. Now Schatz puts it down for the Reds. The Tahs looking half decent at the moment as they feed a midfield scrum 22m out. Reds lead 7-3.

14th min Tahs survive. Reds cough up a penalty with the ball. They did that against the Highlanders a few times as well. Try goes begging and they lead 7-3 as the Tahs try to work their way up the field.

12th min The Reds had them in all sorts on the left but Saia Faingaa, for some reason, tries a grubber. That's a yellow card offence for hookers to be doing that. Penalty to the Reds and they take the tap. Tahs under enormous pressure now.

11th min Penalty for the Tahs. They needed that and finally get off their line. The Reds gave up a whopping 17 penalties last week. That sort of poor discipline could be fatal this time.

10th min Cooper looking dangerous for Queensland but the Reds lose it on a little raid down the short side. Tahs feed a scrum just a few metres out. Reds lead 7-3.

7th min Hart makes a little break for the Tahs as Shipperley gets cleaned out at the breakdown, opening up a gap. The Reds regather though and Cooper threads a lovely kick to pin the Tahs back down near their line. Poor clearance from Grayson 'Hugh' Hart. Reds with a decent chance here.

6th min Foley with the reply for the Tahs. Reds lead 7-3.

5th min Harris makes a beautiful start with the boot. Slots it over from right on the sideline and it was never in doubt. Huge beginning from Queensland as the Tahs get a penalty within kicking range. It's 7-0 to the Reds but that could be about to change.

2nd min Good start from the Reds. Cooper swings it wide and Ioane makes a big charge. He couldn't get the pass away. To be honest, even if he had half the side outside him he probably wouldn't have passed it. Shipperley went close down the other side off the kick and the Reds win the line-out against the throw. It's a TRY to Scott Higginbotham! Brilliant start. It's 5-0 to the Reds.

7.40pm Both teams on the park. Ben Daley leads out the Reds for his 50th cap. The Tahs just sort of snuck out there. Didn't even see them creep out of the tunnel. Tahs kick off and we are away.

7.35pm Quade Cooper is still tweeting, just moments before kick-off. He thanks his cuz Josh Dugan (Canberra Raiders) for the well wishes. Hard not to be impressed, quite frankly.

Preamble Well, well, well... hasn't that made things interesting. The Brumbies dropped the ball this afternoon against the Blues, losing at home without a bonus point and suddenly, the Reds have destiny in their own hands. Going into the final round, the Reds needed some results to fall their way to smooth any potential path to the finals. There's still a range of possibilities for Queensland but for the moment, this is what you need to know: If they beat the Tahs with a bonus point tonight, they will host a home final. That is some serious motivation.

Of course, the Tahs won't be playing ball. They will play tight and tough and try to keep the Reds scratching away for fast ball all night. The bad news for them is that the forecast rain for tonight failed to appear. It hasn't rained all day and the field is in good shape despite copping a pounding last night under the feet of the Broncos and Warriors. Huge crowd expected. Everything on the line. Let's get it on (as in, the sporting sense, not the Marvin Gaye sense).

4 comments so far

  • More Waratahs dross. What a singularly uninspiring season. Some searching and honest self-appraisals needed in the off-season, the fact is we're a broken organisation, there is something rotten at the core. Enough of this namby-pamby not mentioning names garbage Growden, what's the goddamn issue and how the hell is it causing this on-field farce?

    Commenter
    Jaime
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 14, 2012, 9:18PM
    • WWhat if a well known and proud football side of any code had just finished its season having had what all commentators say was its worst season in history, despite having players of international status, who are capable of not only being in the finals but winning the comp; a team (sorry, 15 players) which lost 75% of its games and conceded 25 points a game; a team which for all season looked befuddled, lost, aimless, inept, incompetent, leaderless, gutless, heartless and besotted by negaticity (that kicking game) that gave the ball to a rampaging opposition at every opportunity (can anyone explain how a team (or even a group of individuals) can expect to win any game of football of whatever code by defending; or am I missing something); a team that has ground it supporters to despair, slowly losing the will to watch and see, week after week, another hapless effort, and another round of excuses; a team that has lost its support, tired of watching the same crap, hearing the same mantra, knowing things will not improve. And then the management of that sad club (let’s no longer call it a team) announces that it has secured the services of the current coach for next year.

      Commenter
      Des C
      Date and time
      July 14, 2012, 11:59PM
      • Are we are all expected to rejoice over such a coup – the reappointment of the current coach. Excited to get this mastermind of tactical brilliance to lead us, to inspire us, to turn the individual talent so clearly available this year into next year’s unstoppable force?
        If it were any normal club there would be an outrage, But it's the Waratahs, and for those of you who know this club, enough said. Its sacrosanct. It’s a club above the people, not for the people. You are not allowed to criticize, or if you are, it is simply ignored.
        For me, this means that it will be at least 18 months before there is any hope of a revival. But on the other hand, there will be heaps of seats available to watch the demise.

        Commenter
        Des C
        Date and time
        July 15, 2012, 12:01AM
        • Quade, that was stupid.

          Commenter
          Frank MacGill
          Location
          Queensland
          Date and time
          July 15, 2012, 12:04AM

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