The Queensland Reds survived a furious Fijian Drua finish to post a 27-24 win in Brisbane and climb the Super Rugby Pacific ladder to sixth place on Sunday.
Reds winger Filipo Daugunu – a former Fijian age-group football goalkeeper – won a crucial turnover in the 79th minute to repel the momentum of the Drua who had stunned the defending champion Crusaders in Lautoka last weekend.
It was Queensland’s first game at their spiritual home of Suncorp Stadium this year and lifts them to 2-2 after a shaky start to the season.
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Reds No.8 Harry Wilson was a prominent figure, particularly with his ball carrying, and scored an important try while lurking on the left wing.
“I think Eddie Jones, the new Wallaby coach, would have liked what he’s seen today of Harry Wilson,” Queensland and Wallabies legend Tim Horan said on Stan Sport.
“The carries, he hasn’t thrown too many loose passes … he’s been involved and crossed the advantage line.”
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Drew Mitchell was also impressed by Wilson, who has played 12 Tests but never fully won the trust of previous national coach Dave Rennie.
“His second half has been strong, the response from the half time break. A couple of little errors just before the half time break, a miscommunication with Fraser McReight but otherwise he’s been strong today.”
Wilson told Stan Sport that the heat and humidity was sapping and was immensely relieved to hold off the comeback.
“The more loose it gets the more scary they become,” Wilson said.
Morgan Turinui said the 2-2 Drua, now seventh on the ladder, would continue to be a major threat in the competition.
“An amazing game and an amazing team, the Drua,” Turinui said.
“It is like a wave that keeps coming, you can’t stop the tide sometimes.”
Reds coach Brad Thorn will also be sweating on the fitness of oft-injured winger Suliasi Vunivalu, who scored a try before limping off late and leaving the home side scrambling to put together a backline.
Forward Connor Vest came on for Vunivalu, with flanker Fraser McReight then having to shift into the centres.
“It could have cost them – Suliasi Vunivalu is always at risk of not going the full 80 minutes,” Turinui said.
The Reds will now take on the improving Rebels (1-3) in Melbourne on Saturday while the Drua will travel to Dunedin to tackle the Highlanders (1-3).
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