21 Feb 2011

O'Connor shines but can't lift Force over Reds

6:34 am on 21 February 2011

Crestfallen James O'Connor produced a man-of-the-match display to win his personal battle with Queensland's Quade Cooper but rued a rare mistake which cost the Western Force the Super Rugby war on Sunday night.

Showing Queensland will find the going tougher as the hunted rather than hunters in the 2011, the Force gave the Reds an almighty scare before the home side got out of jail 21-20 at Suncorp Stadium.

Versatile Test winger O'Connor revelled in his move to five-eighth and had the visitors on the cusp of an amazing upset in the dying stages with a solo 90 metre try, swooping on a poor Cooper pass near the line.

But, after kicking five from six from all parts of the ground, the talented 20-year-old missed with his conversion attempt 10 metres in from touch.

Instead of leading by eight, the costly miss opened the door for Queensland's forwards who combined for the pick-and-drive try ultimately scored by reserve hooker James Hanson in the 75th minute.

Cooper then stepped up to slot the clutch conversion to the delight of the 26,060-strong Brisbane crowd.