BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – The Sunwolves once again suffered heartbreak Saturday as they lost 35-25 to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
Besides once again losing a game that was within their grasp, the Sunwolves also lost lock Tim Bond to a season-ending knee injury.
“It was a very unfortunate result,” said Sunwolves captain Harumichi Tatekawa, who along with his fellow backs played some sparkling rugby. “We played really well and it was a great lesson to be leared and we will take it into our next game.”
While all the attention pregame was on Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru, it was the work of his Reds (3-8-1) and Japan teammate Hendrik Tui and the Queensland pack that was the difference between the two sides, with all four of the Reds’ tries coming from forwards.
“We worked really hard,” said Reds captain James Slipper. “That’s what we wanted to do and we put in a good performance. The Sunwolves spread the ball very well and their halves controlled the game very well.”
The Reds pack had the upper hand from the start, and Goromaru opened the scoring for the hosts in the fourth minute with a penalty after the Sunwolves (1-9-1) were penalized at the breakdown.
The hosts extended their lead 10 minutes later when No. 8 Curtis Browning powered over, and Goromaru added the extras for good measure.
The Sunwolves, written off by so many before the season started, showed why they have forced so many to reassess their take on the team as Derek Carpenter scored his fourth try of the season following some good hands from Takeshi Kizu.
The Reds forwards, however, once again took control and prop Slipper crossed in the 29th minute, with Goromaru’s right boot making it 17-7.
Tusi Pisi then added two penalties to his earlier conversion — the first bringing up a century of points for the Sunwolves — as the visitors went into the break just four points behind.
The Reds pack, however, didn’t waste time restoring order and Browning was pushed over by his pack just minutes into the second stanza to make it 22-13.
The visitors were not done though and they scored two cracking tries either side of a penalty from Goromaru.
Carpenter’s second came courtesy of some great interplay by Akihito Yamada and Pisi, while Liaki Moli finished off some good work from a number of teammates to cross in the corner.
That score marked the last input of Goromaru as he injured himself making a clumsy attempt at a tackle, and Jake McIntyre who converted lock Cadeyrn Neville’s try in the 59th minute, kicked a penalty in the 72nd minute to seal the win.