Reds overcome Force after a week of off-field dramas

The Reds were thrashed 47-3 by the ACT Brumbies in the opening round last week and things went from bad to worse in the lead-up to Saturday’s clash against the rapidly improving Force.

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Several key Queensland players were ruled out and fullback Karmichael Hunt was stood down after being summoned to court to face allegations of supplying cocaine.

The match almost didn’t go ahead because of Cyclone Marcia, which forced the abandonment of Australia’s cricket World Cup match in Brisbane, but was given approval. Then just minutes before kick-off, flyhalf James O’Connor was ruled out with an injury.

Despite all the distractions, the Reds somehow managed to post a convincing win, scoring two unanswered tries against their fellow Australians who were on a high after beating the defending champions, the New South Wales Waratahs, last week.

“It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s just about character,” Queensland’s stand-in captain Will Genia said at his post-match interview.

“We’re moving forward after what was a very tumultuous week last week.”

With both teams intent on kicking the ball and playing for field position at a soggy Lang Park, the Reds grabbed the first try just before halftime when winger Chris Kuridrani launched a counter-attack from inside his own half.

Lachie Turner, who was called in to replace Hunt at fullback, finished off the move to score in the right corner. Turner also landed two first half penalties and a second half conversion for 13 points of his own.

The Force landed two early penalties from flyhalf Sias Ebersohn but the knockout blow came when they gave up a penalty try in the second half for repeated scrum infringements.

“Our set piece was ordinary and we turned over too much ball,” Force skipper Sam Wykes said.

(Reporting by Julian Linden in Singapore; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)