The Queensland Reds took advantage of a contentious red card to Sunwolves flanker Ed Quirk, winning 48-27 in their last game of the season on Friday night.
But for the second week in a row, the Sunwolves were forced to play out more than half the match with only 14 men after a contentious red card to Ed Quirk.
It robbed them of any chance they might have had, with the Japanese outfit eventually succumbing to a seven-tries-to-three defeat on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
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Flanker Quirk was sent off in the 37th minute for what referee Ben O’Keeffe and television match official Damien Mitchelmore deemed to be foul play on Hamish Stewart.
Replays showed Quirk, a former Reds player, made contact to Stewart’s face with a closed fist while both were on the ground – but the force with which it was delivered was so light to be almost negligible.
Players on both sides were in disbelief when O’Keeffe eventually produced the card after a lengthy stoppage.
— Rhys Jones (@RhysJonesRuns) July 13, 2018
@raelenecastle as a rugby fan of 27 years I hope that you can bring some positive change to the game. After the ridiculous red card handed to Ed Quirk tonight I am hoping you can bring up the issue of draconian and inconsistent officiating in the game with SANZAAR and World 1/2
— Tim Gillespie (@TheWorldByDiz) July 13, 2018
The Reds were up 22-13 at the time and missing one of their own, with Duncan Paia’aua still in the sin bin after conceding a penalty try for his deliberate knockdown in the 28th minute.
They copped another yellow five minutes into the second half when Caleb Timu shoulder-charged a prone Hayden Parker in the head – a dangerous offence for which a red was much more deserving.
The card controversies and the shoulder injury that ended skipper Scott Higginbotham’s night just before halftime took some of the gloss off an otherwise solid night at the office for Queensland – as did a slack finish in which two tries were conceded in the last seven minutes.
It was the Reds’ second win in a row and sixth for the season, ensuring their best return since 2013, the year they last made the Super Rugby finals.
It also ensured Europe-bound quartet George Smith, Jono Lance, Eto Nabuli and Kane Douglas were farewelled in positive fashion.
Smith (knee) and Douglas (omitted) didn’t play but Nabuli bagged a double and Lance had one try in his 18-point contribution.
Taniela Tupou, Paia’aua, Moses Sorovi and Liam Wright, the young gun who will take over from Wallabies legend Smith in the No.7 jersey next year, scored the others for Queensland.