Reds smash Waratahs in Super Rugby AU season opener

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) –


The Queensland Reds launched the Super Rugby AU season with a record 41-7 derby bonus-point win over the New South Wales Waratahs in Brisbane on Friday.

The Reds, skippered for the first time by Wallaby James O'Connor, scored five tries to one with O'Connor landing five conversions and two penalties against the Waratahs, who played a man down following Izaia Perese's first-half red card.

The Reds are looking to push on this season after going down narrowly 28-23 to the ACT Brumbies in last year's decider.

The Brumbies open their title defence against the beefed-up Western Force in Perth later Friday.

"The forwards really worked hard tonight, it wasn't our most clinical performance, but we're happy with that," O'Connor said.

"When they got the red card we could have lost our shape. We want to have 15 on 15 to make it fairer but those are the rules and you've got to stick to them."

The Waratahs began well when scrum-half Jake Gordon finished off a burst from Jack Maddocks to score in the third minute. They were the last points New South Wales were to score in the match.

Queensland quickly gained control with three unanswered tries before half-time.

O'Connor featured twice in an attacking raid and laid on the final pass for fullback Jock Campbell to cross.

The Reds forwards set up the platform for a burrowing try to hooker Alex Mafi with O'Connor's conversion opening a 10-point lead early in the first half.

Winger Filipo Daugunu raced away to finish off Fraser McReight's pass as the Reds threatened to overwhelm the Waratahs.

The Waratahs fortunes nosedived when centre Perese was red carded for a dangerous lifting tackle on Hunter Paisami nearing half-time.

"Dangerous tackle, the player would have landed on his head, therefore a red card," TMO Brett Cronan told the referee.

The Reds went in at half-time leading 27-7 but it took until the final 10 minutes for further points, with Daugunu grabbing his second try and replacement winger Ilaisa Droasese crossing in the corner, both converted by O'Connor.

The Waratahs have lost more than 1,500 Super Rugby caps of experience over the past two seasons, headlined by Michael Hooper's one-year sabbatical in Japan.

Apart from Wallaby skipper Hooper, the Waratahs are also without internationals Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Simmons, Nick Phipps, Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley, while Wallabies forward Jack Dempsey says he will be leaving at the end of the season to join the Glasgow Warriors.