The Reds avenged some of the pain inflicted on them by the Sharks in recent Vodacom Super Rugby seasons with a comfortable 32-17 win in Brisbane on Friday that effectively ends any interest their opponents may have had in the South African conference trophy.
It is still possible for the Sharks to sneak into the play-offs as a wild card, but even that is a long shot now following their fifth consecutive defeat since their last victory, which was against the Crusaders in Durban the week after Easter.
Any hopes of a conference win might already have diminished for the Sharks in the face of a massive injury crisis, but they also don’t make things easy for themselves.
In this game their first-half defence was woeful, at least as poor as the opening part of the tour opener against the Chiefs in Hamilton two weeks ago.
They just slipped too many tackles against a team that was allowed to play with confidence and energy and which had the Sharks' players grabbing at shadows as they switched angles and direction of attack.
The Reds did all their playing in the first half, racing to a 29-3 lead by halftime and clinching their four-try bonus point as early as the 34th minute of the match.
In the second half, as they did against the Chiefs, the Sharks fought back strongly, and might have made a race of it had Lwazi Mvovo not been denied an intercept try that an assistant referee ruled to have come from a knock-on.
The Sharks had already pulled back one try when Mvovo split the defence in the 44th minute off an inside pass from Patrick Lambie before the ball was spun to the right off the recycle and right wing Piet Lindeque went over in his corner.
But after the disallowed intercept try, although they were the next to score, they had to wait for nearly another 20 minutes before Derick Minnie went in off a driving lineout.
That made it a 12-point game with 15 minutes remaining and the Reds, looking tired, were suddenly vulnerable, but on their next incursion into Sharks territory they forced the penalty which Quade Cooper kicked to make the game safe for the hosts with eight minutes to go.
But in reality the game was over as a proper contest long before then, with perhaps the killer blow being the turnover try that the Reds scored through a 100-metre cross-field sweep that ended with Rod Davies scoring on the right.
At that stage, the 14th minute, the Sharks looked to be settling after conceding an early try to hooker Saia Faingaa.
A Lambie penalty had helped them steady themselves and they were 7-3 down as they built up strongly for a try only for the ball to be knocked on under the Reds’ posts.
Referee Glen Jackson signaled advantage and the Reds made full use of it, with Cooper swinging the ball to the left, a strong surge up the left flank ending with the ball being transferred inside to Will Genia, who kicked left footed across the field to find Davies, who took the ball on the bounce with no defender in sight.
Being 12-3 down was bad enough but it became a lot worse as the other Faingaa, Anthony this time, went over on the left after 21 minutes after the Sharks' defence had just allowed the Reds too much space.
Cooper added a penalty nine minutes later to make it 22-3 and then came the bonus-point try, with Cooper kicking the ball onto Keegan Daniel, who was caught by Cooper and turned over, with the Sharks' defence having no chance as the ball was run to the left, Davies again going over as easy as you like.
The Sharks slipped too many tackles and made too many handling errors, with the latter probably contributing to the former, as the Sharks’ defence wasn’t an issue in the second half when they were holding onto the ball and carrying it far more effectively.
The Sharks came back from a 17-0 early deficit to beat the Reds 27-22 at Kings Park last year, and the Reds would have been aware of that as the Sharks started their fightback.
However, as had been the case in Hamilton two weeks previously, the deficit always looked just a bit too much for the Sharks, and the Reds were happy to avenge their exit from last year’s competition at the quarterfinal stage at the hands of the Durban team.
The win with the bonus point means the Reds are now one point behind the Brumbies on the closely fought Australian conference log table.
Queensland Reds – Tries: Saia Faingaa, Rod Davies (2), Anthony Faingaa. Conversions: Quade Cooper (3). Penalties: Cooper (2).
Sharks – Tries: Petrus Lindeque, Derrick Minnie. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2). Penalty: Lambie.