O’Connor shines as Reds finally get back on winners’ list
FORMER Wallaby James O'Connor put his name back in front of national selectors for this year's World Cup with his best game for the Reds since returning from France.
The winger (pictured), who lost his place in the Australian line-up after a string off off-field incidents, booted a conversion and a penalty and made a break that set up a try for replacement forward Adam Korczyk as the Reds downed the Cheetahs 18-17 in Bloemfontein.
The win lifted the Queenslanders off the bottom of the Australian conference, and the overall standings, skipper James Slipper saying the team had been due for a change of luck after a penalty attempt by the home side in the dying seconds hit the left upright and bounced away.
"We've been waiting a long time for this victory," he said.
"The rugby gods smiled on us at the death - but a little luck was overdue this season.
"We did well at scrum time and that was no surprise - the guys have been putting a lot of effort into that aspect of our game."
The result left the Reds with a win and a loss from their tour of South Africa.
They return home to take on the Hurricanes in Brisbane on Sunday, the Kiwi conference leaders no doubt stung by Saturday's 29-24 loss to the Waratahs in Wellington, their first defeat of the season.
The big losers on the weekend were the Brumbies, going down 13-8 to the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra.
The Brumbies (26 pts), still lead the Australian conference by three points from the Waratahs, but that could be on sufference as they face the in-form Highlanders on Friday night before two tough games in South Africa.
Round 10 scores: CHIEFS 26 (M Leitch, J Lowe, L Squire tries; A Horrell con, pen, A Cruden pen, T Nanai-Williams pen) CRUSADERS 9 (D Carter 3 pen); in Christchurch on Friday night
WARATAHS 29 (P Betham 2, W Skelton, I Folau tries; B Foley 3 con, pen) HURRICANES 24 (C Smith, B Barrett, B Shields, T Perenara tries, B Barrett 2 con), in Wellington on Saturday night
HIGHLANDERS 30 (M Fekitoa, W Naholo, M Fekitoa tries; L Sopoaga 3 con, 3 pen) BLUES 24 (K Mealamu 2, G Moala, P Tuipulotu tries; D Bowden, I West con); in Dunedin on Saturday night
REBELS 13 (S Naivalu try, M Harris con, 2 pen) BRUMBIES 8 (H Speight try, C Leali'ifano pen); in Canberra on Saturday night
STORMERS 13 (penalty try, D Catrakilis con, pen, K Coleman pen) WESTERN FORCE 6 (L Burton 2 pen); in Perth on Saturday night
BULLS 17 (F Hougaard try; H Pollard 4 pen) SHARKS 10 (M Coetzee try, F Zeilinga con, pen); in Durban on Saturday night
REDS 18 (A Korczyk, S Kerevi tries; J O'Connor con, pen, N Frisby field goal) CHEETAHS 17 (R Benjamin, B Prinsloo tries; J Pietersen 2 con, pen), in Bloemfontein on Saturday night