BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Filipo Daugunu scored a pair of tries as the Queensland Reds opened the Super Rugby Australia season with a 41-7 win Friday over archrival New South Wales.
The Reds conceded the first try but responded with 24 by the 18th minute and led 27-7 at halftime. A red card late in the first half to Waratahs center Izaia Perese for a dangerous tip-tackle and second-half injuries to scrumhalf Jake Gordon and Joey Walton made any comeback attempt more difficult for the visitors.
James O’Connor kicked five conversations and two penalty goals in the bonus-point victory in his first start as Reds captain.
“There was some really good, entertaining rugby in that first half,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said. “There was a bit of an abyss there for about 35 minutes but the guys got some pay there at the end.”
The 2020 champion ACT Brumbies opened with a 27-11 win over the Western Force in Perth, with flyhalf Noah Lolesio opening the scoring after running onto a perfectly timed pass from Nic White, and Irae Simone and Issak Fines crossing for second-half tries. Lolesio landed three conversions and two penalties. Replacement Tomas Cubelli scored a consolation try in the 75th for the Force and Ian Prior kicked two penalties.
This year's competition features a number of new rules. Last season’s tied games were decided by a golden point in extra time, meaning a team could win with a penalty goal, a dropped goal or a try. This year, teams will have to score a try to win in extra time in a tweak that encourages more attacking play.
Players will also get far less time to rest. Teams will have just 30 seconds to restart play after points are scored, while scrum resets will be timed by the television match official to reduce unnecessary delays.
Meanwhile, the six-week, home-and-away trans-Tasman competition that is due to follow the separate Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby tournaments from May 14 is still expected to go ahead despite continued uncertainty around border restrictions.
There are concerns a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand will not be established for the tournament to be run as initially planned because of new outbreaks in each country.
The old Super Rugby format, involving teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, went into recess last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand and Australia subsequently launched independent domestic competitions, each featuring five teams. The domestic formats will continue through 2021.
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