Cooper shines on Reds return


It was a battle of the cellar dwellers, with the two Australian sides occupying the bottom two positions of the table and little more than pride at stake.

Wallaby Cooper returned after two months sidelined by a shoulder injury and sparked the struggling Reds, who went into the match with just three wins from 13 outings this season but ran in four tries in a brilliant display that belied their lowly standing.

Cooper scored two tries and was in everything for the Reds, with his evasiveness and sure ball handling giving his side an offensive edge they have lacked all season.

He scored 22 points, missing with just one attempt with the boot, as well as creating several scoring opportunities with his passing.

He combined brilliantly with Will Genia and it was the latter's pass that enabled Cooper to score his second try in the 63rd minute.

Cooper also scored the opening try of the match, and his first of the season, in the 17th minute.

The Reds were able to spread the ball from side to side and constantly stretch the defence of the Force.

Lachie Turner scored a brace of tries, and both times Cooper was involved.

The first came after Cooper bamboozled the Force with a quick flick behind his back that left Turner with an easy job to score the try in the corner in the 35th minute.

A string of passes in the 48th minute, including two from Cooper, ended with Turner all alone in the corner again for a simple try.

That all but ended the Force resistance, after they trailed 18-10 at half-time, their hopes having been temporarily revived by a 38th minute try to Dane Hayler-Petty.

Reds captain James Slipper said it was a much-improved performance.

“We improved in most areas of the game,” he said.

“We defended real well and our set pieces were very good.”

Force skipper Matt Hodgson conceded his side was barely in the contest.

“It is disappointing, we were on the back foot for most of the game after the first five minutes,” he said.

“They got the upper hand and we couldn't get it back.” – AFP

Original source: Cooper shines on Reds return