Reds 19 Bulls 12BIG Queensland prop Laurie Weeks could barely catch his breath as he trudged off after 40 minutes of the kind of rugby that makes you tired just watching. He gasped a few words for the sideline TV interview that said all you needed to know about the mindset of Ewen McKenzie’s renovated Reds.”We can take them,” Weeks said. It’s the kind of confidence even the most ardent fans thought had vacated Ballymore years ago, or moved to Sydney with Berrick Barnes.Not any more. After being the punchline of rugby gags for a decade, Queensland and their audacious brand of football are making the most unlikely of charges at the Super 14 finals. Who is going to stop them?With an inspirational 19-12 victory over the Super 14 champion Bulls at Suncorp Stadium, Queensland move to fourth on the ladder with four games remaining. But numbers alone can’t define the turnaround that has taken place in Brisbane this season, nor the effort that went into rolling the most physical franchise in the game armed only with a pack devoid of a single Wallaby.With 26,669 fans cheering them on, the Reds looked to have the game in the bag midway through the second half after taking a 19-7 lead. But they had to withstand a ferocious late charge from the tired but bloodthirsty Bulls to hold on in the most desperate and memorable of scraps.For the final 10 minutes the Reds were camped on their line for so long they almost had to start paying rates to the council. This was do-or-die. As the Bulls tried the thrust with their signature maul, which has been unstoppable for most of the season, the Reds parried with the deft hand of veteran hooker Sean Hardman, who may have had the single touch that saved the season.McKenzie wasn’t billing this as a defining contest, but it was. He challenged his pack to stand up and they repaid his faith. With ball in hand, the Reds never stood still. Sensing a fatigued side at the end of a long tour, they ran at every chance, sometimes to their own detriment.”Outstanding effort – I’m very proud,” Reds skipper Will Genia said after the game. ”We spoke all week about not having an excuses. We adjusted really well and this is an outstanding result.” The crowd was drowning him out. It’s been a while since that happened in Queensland.Genia was sublime once again, as was Cooper and his powerful back line. The only dampener for the Reds was a late ankle injury to ageless lock Van Humphries.Meanwhile, the Crusaders and Blues enjoyed strong home wins in yesterday’s other matches. The Crusaders hammered the Cheetahs 45-6, and the Blues beat the Western Force 38-17.QUEENSLAND REDS 19 (Rod Davies, Scott Higginbotham tries Quade Cooper 3 pens) bt BULLS 12 (Derick Kuun, Pedrie Wannenburg tries Morne Steyn con) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA).
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