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Reds down disappointing Hurricanes

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Sportal.co.nz     02 Mar 2013     Getty Images

The Reds dominated most of a match which was never allowed to flow, thanks to a high penalty count and sloppy handling from both teams on a sodden surface.

Intense pressure in the final 20 minutes from the Hurricanes was not enough for the New Zealand side, as they let several great try chances slip.

Digby Ioane scored the only try of the first half for the Reds, while lock Rob Simmons crossed in the second period for his first five-pointer in 51 appearances.

The first 40 minutes was punctuated by a barrage of penalties, and early on the opposing number 10s exchanged penalties.

Quade Cooper, coming off an impressive performance last week against the Waratahs, was caught in possession after just 45 seconds to concede a penalty within Beauden Barrett's range, and the Hurricanes playmaker made no mistake to give his side the early advantage.

The Reds flyhalf made amends two minutes later by converting a penalty from a tougher angle at the other end.

The hosts continued to enjoy uninterrupted possession and good field position before earning another penalty, which Cooper duly slotted home.

Barrett levelled the scores at 6-6 from right in front of the posts following an offside call against the Reds.

Barrett then missed his first two penalty attempts of season 2013, but made it third time lucky after 21 minutes to put the Hurricanes ahead 9-6, despite the fact they had only enjoyed 19 percent possession with a quarter of the match gone.

Reds winger Ioane put an end to the penalty kick-off by getting on the end of a Ben Lucas pass down the blind side to scramble over in the corner for the first try of the night.

It took the Hurricanes until the 34th minute to embark on an attacking raid with ball in hand, and they immediately looked threatening. Quick passing and a Julian Savea break sent TJ Perenara on his way down the left wing, but his kick downfield went dead when the Reds chasers looked to be struggling.

A disjointed first half ended with the home side holding an 11-9 lead on the scoreboard and the Hurricanes edging the penalty count 8-6.

An impressive display of power from the Reds pack forced a knock-on from a Hurricanes scrum early in the second period.

Queensland seemed to have botched their chance to extend their lead after initially failing to capitalise on the resultant period of possession in their opponent's 22, but a second turnover from a Hurricanes scrum saw Simmons crash over for his first try in 51 Investec Super Rugby appearances.

Cooper converted to make the score 18-9 in favour of the Reds with 30 minutes to go.

But when Reds flanker Eddie Quirk was penalised right in front of the posts for a shoulder charge, Barrett kicked the Hurricanes back to within six points.

A Cooper obstruction further out went unpunished by Barrett, who had an uncharacteristically inconsistent night with the boot.

The Hurricanes came hard at the Reds in the latter stages, but bombed several excellent chances.

A foot on the touchline ruled out one try before Andre Taylor knocked-on minutes later when the Hurricanes had numbers out left.

Conrad Smith then thought he had scored for the New Zealanders following a wayward Cooper pass, but the video referee called it back for a Chris Smylie knock-on in the lead up.

Numerous Reds errors when defending their line at the death were not capitalised on by the Hurricanes as they made plenty of mistakes of their own in possession, as the hosts hung on for their second win of the campaign.

Reds 18 (Digby Ioane, Rob Simmons tries; Quade Cooper 1 con, 2 pen) Hurricanes 12 (Beauden Barrett four pen). HT 9-11.