REDS 35 FORCE 20
Reds triumph at slippery Suncorp
Nick Cummins of the Force catches the ball. Photo: Getty Images
Cult hero Radike Samo lit up Suncorp Stadium with another super solo try before radar-boot Mike Harris ensured the Queensland Reds survived a second-half scare by the Western Force on Saturday night.
Harris slotted a Reds' record nine goals from nine attempts - giving him an amazing 24 from 24 in Super Rugby over the past two seasons - to see the defending champions prevail 35-20 on a wet night.
In their first match at home in 2012, Queensland mixed good with bad as they were given a major fright by the rank underdogs who looked dead and buried at 26-6 down in the 50th minute.
Inspirational Force skipper David Pocock and then playmaker James Stannard stepped through feeble defence for two tries within five minutes to turn the contest on its head.
But Kiwi-bred five-eighth Harris, ably filling in for the injured Quade Cooper, killed off the uprising by kicking three more clutch penalties to equal John Eales' 1996 mark of nine goals.
"We're pleased to win but we're not pleased how we got it," said Reds skipper James Horwill, who lamented poor ball control and defensive lapses.
"They were pretty soft tries ... us just missing one on one tackles and that's not good enough.
The Reds built their 20-point lead through a Samo intercept before the break when he recreated his memorable IRB try of the year against New Zealand.
In in his first match at Suncorp since last August's Tri-Nations triumph over the All Blacks, the wild-haired No.8 again sprinted 60m to the delight of the 33,563-strong Brisbane crowd after steaming onto a Stannard inside ball from a scrum move.
Queensland were simply more clinical, kicked better and far smarter in their option-taking than their winless western rivals.
While the visitors' pack held their own and constantly pressured at the breakdown and set-piece, their attack fumbled and bumbled their way into error throughout the first half whenever they worked themselves into try-scoring position.
A Stannard break in the 14th minute was followed by three poor choices as a two-man overlap and space on the left was unforgivably ignored.
The disciplined Reds defence held firm under pressure and when Will Genia and stand-out Ben Tapuai had the chance to punish Nick Cummins for a 20th-minute turnover on half-way, they pounced.
Genia darted to the blind a delivered a deft pass around the corner which Tapuai took with his right hand before beating Nathan Charles and Napolioni Nalaga on a burst to the corner for a 10-0 lead..
QUEENSLAND REDS 35 (Radike Samo, Ben Tapuai tries Michael Harris 2 cons 7 pens) bt WESTERN FORCE 20 (David Pocock, James Stannard tries Stannard 2 cons 2 pens) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Ian Smith. Crowd: 33,563.