Reds hold out Rebels for first Super W win

Melissa Woods |

The Queensland Reds have risen to a hard-fought 17-15 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Super W.
The Queensland Reds have risen to a hard-fought 17-15 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Super W.

Teenage sensation Shalom Sauaso has helped lift the Queensland Reds off the bottom of the Super W ladder, the visitors holding off the Melbourne Rebels to clinch a thrilling 17-15 victory.

The 16-year-old Ipswich High School student scored two first-half tries and saved two more as the Reds booked their first win in four rounds and the Rebels were denied their second-ever victory in cruel fashion.

Friday night’s win at AAMI Park allowed Queensland to leapfrog Melbourne, who were also winless but ahead in fifth spot thanks to a bonus point.

Shalom Sauaso in action for Queensland Reds.
Shalom Sauaso was outstanding for the Reds as they battled to a two-point win in Melbourne. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Reds skipper Cecilia Smith said her immediate feeling post match was relief.

“Definitely as that was a really tough battle out there, they came out firing and we knew they were going to want it as much as us,” Smith told Stan Sport.

She praised Sauaso’s contribution during her 60 minutes on the field.

“She is amazing – all we wanted was for her to run those hard lines and she did with those two tries and she was outstanding, she was the best for us.”

Rebels skipper Ash Marsters was gutted by the loss after coming so close.

“We didn’t have a great start and came out of the sheds firing but it wasn’t good enough so it’s another a tough pill to swallow,” she said.

Queensland dominated the first 40 minutes to lead 14-0 before the home side fired up in the second stanza.

Melbourne five-eighth Cassie Siataga had the chance to put her team ahead with seven minutes left on the clock but her penalty kick went to the right of the upright.

Sauaso, who has a contract to play NRLW with Brisbane next year, opened the scoring in the seventh minute when she charged on to the ball off the back of a maul and burst through six Rebels defenders to touch down.

With the Reds taking advantage of the hosts’ poor discipline and some costly errors, they had 90 per cent of territory and 72 per cent of possession and their dominance was rewarded when Sauaso came up with her second inside 20 minutes.

A schoolgirl sevens star, Sauaso showed off her defensive skills when she stopped what looked a certain try to winger Chanelle Kohika-Skipper.

The Reds centre pulled off a repeat early in the second half with a cover tackle on Kohika-Skipper, again preventing a five-pointer.

Action from Melbourne Rebels v Queensland Reds in Super W.
The Rebels battled back in the second half but were unable to overhaul the Reds. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Melbourne started to find their groove and were first on the scoreboard in the second half, hooker Jayme Nuku touching down under the posts after a pick and go.

The Rebels forwards continued to cause some headaches and flanker Mel Kawa made it a two-point game when she scrambled over.

Starting as five-eighth, versatile Wallaroo Lori Cramer was able to push the Reds’ lead to 17-12 through a penalty before Siataga returned the favour.

The Rebels had all the running as the clock wound down but Smith forced a crucial turnover as her team held on for the vital win.