Sports

James O’Connor’s knee scare gives Wallabies a headache as Reds outduel Moana Pasifika


This article originally appeared on stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission

Moana Pasifika has fallen to its 11th loss of the season, paying the price for a poor first half against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

A 24-10 halftime deficit gave them too much to do in the second spell, and the killer blow came in the 69th minute as they were chasing the game, with a Christian Leali’ifano pass picked off by Reds No.8 Harry Wilson for the game-sealing try.

Yellow cards to No.8 Henry Time-Stowers and replacement halfback Ere Enari also hurt Moana Pasifika’s cause, but they can have no complaints about the result after a spirited but inaccurate performance.

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Moana Pasifika started brightly with an early try to No.7 Solomone Funaki, one of their best players this season.

However, the remainder of the first half was largely one-way traffic as the Reds dominated possession.

Against a Moana Pasifika defence that has lost some of its sting from earlier in the year, Brad Thorn’s side ran in four tries in the first half.

Fullback Jock Campbell scored two tries as Wallabies No.10 James O’Connor enjoyed plenty of good quality ball and mixed up his attacking options.

However, O’Connor gave Thorn a headache when he left the field injured in the second half, seemingly troubled by a knee injury.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who was also at the game at Suncorp Stadium, will also be hopeful of a positive prognosis with Australia’s three-test series against England not far away.

For Moana Pasifika, No.10 Leali’ifano added some structure to the attack in his return to the starting side, but the visitors were simply on the back foot for too long to bring their attacking weapons into the contest.

The destructive Timoci Tavatavanawai did his best to get involved – targeting Reds’ halfback Tate McDermott on several occasions – but Levu Aumua’s presence in the midfield was again missed.

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The third quarter of the game saw Moana Pasifika enjoy their best spell of the game, with hooker Ray Niuia prominent with ball in hand.

The Reds’ discipline slipped as Moana Pasifika finally managed to exert some sustained pressure, but Aaron Mauger’s side was not clinical enough to make them pay on the scoreboard.

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