Super 14 strugglers Queensland Reds sunk to their lowest ebb in another ugly season by crashing to an embarrassing 31-20 loss to Auto & General Lions at Suncorp Stadium.
The ragged and flat Reds failed to cash in on a two-man advantage for nine second-half minutes to lose their fourth successive match and looked a far cry from the entertaining outfit which upset the pacesetting Sharks a month ago.
Lions forwards Robert Kruger and Anton van Zyl were both on the sidelines after being sin-binned within a minute of each other but a bumbling Queensland couldn’t make the visitors pay.
Jim Morton writes for RugbyHeaven Aus that the Johannesburg-based Lions, who enjoyed only a third of possession, taught the hosts a lesson in clinical and precise finishing. They took almost all of their chances to run in four tries to the Reds’ three.
Long-striding winger Henno Mentz claimed a treble, including a momentum-turning 75-metre counter-attacking effort from one of Queensland’s many dropped passes when in attack.
That pivotal moment came with 16 minutes left when Queensland, attacking against the 13-man visitors, coughed up the ball through playmakers Berrick Barnes and Quade Cooper on the 22 and hooker Willie Wepener put Mentz away.
It was one of two long-range tries for the winger, who also scored the first from a Reds turnover.
Queensland skipper James Horwill didn’t mince words after his side’s impatience and comedy of errors badly disappointed the home crowd of 15,597.
“We just didn’t come out and play tonight,” Horwill said after the game. “We didn’t show up.”
“We’re making too many silly mistakes and rushing the play and it’s really hurting us.”
Lions captain Ernst Joubert, who scored an individual chargedown try late in the first half, praised his troops’ patience and defence.
“They [the Reds] can throw the ball around and play touch rugby but I must take my hats off to the boysl it was a brilliant performance,” Joubert said.
The dreadful display left Queensland with a 2-7 record, second last on the table and staring down the barrel at a sixth straight bottom-three finish.
Rubbing salt into the wounds were first-half leg injuries to key men Peter Hynes (ankle) and Daniel Braid (ankle).
Once again, the Reds didn’t find it difficult to break their opponents’ defence but were unable to provide the finishing touches near the line with cut-out passes thrown over the sideline and support players grassing crucial balls.
LIONS 31 (Henno Mentz 3, Ernst Joubert tries Andre Pretorius 4 cons pen)
QUEENSLAND REDS 20 (Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham tries Berrick Barnes con pen)