A two-try haul by rampaging prop Taniela Tupou has helped the Queensland Reds to an impressive 44-19 win over Melbourne Rebels, reclaiming top spot on the Super Rugby AU ladder.
The Brumbies moved ahead after their thrilling win against the NSW Waratahs on Friday night but it was short-lived with the unbeaten Reds regaining the competition lead after Saturday night's AAMI Park victory.
The Rebels did themselves no favours with two of the Reds' six-try haul scored from intercepted passes.
Tupou's first came off a maul in the third minute and 'Tongan Thor' was in again in the 17th minute after James O'Connor split the defence and found the 135kg Wallabies prop on the charge.
Queensland skipper O'Connor said Tupou was a massive asset to the side, who have now won six from six.
"Everyone notices Taniela for his big scrummaging and big runs but the amount of work the big fella does is second to none," O'Connor told Stan Sports.
"He works tirelessly from sideline to sideline and does our big carries for us and our structure doesn't work without our tight five, they're integral."
With centre Hunter Paisami intercepting a Reece Hodge pass and racing 80 metres to touch down, the Reds were out to a 24-0 lead after just 18 minutes.
The shell-shocked Rebels finally got some ball to claw their way back into the match thanks to Frank Lomani, with the Fijian Test halfback playing on the wing.
He ran a superb line to benefit from a perfectly timed Matt Toomua pass and then six minutes later made a break and was able to offload to Hodge.
The centre was chased hard by Queensland fullback Bryce Hegarty but managed to slam the ball over the line to put the Rebels back in the hunt at 24-14 at half-time.
But a second intercepted pass, this time thrown by Toomua, hurt the home side.
Winger Jock Campbell snaffled the ball and flanker Fraser McReight dived across in the ensuing play, while Campbell then extended the margin himself in the 63th minute.
Melbourne No.8 Michael Wells got a well-earned five-pointer soon after but the Reds remained in full control, even adding a late try to reserve back Josh Flook.
Rebels captain Toomua said his team were rattled early on and failed to build enough pressure on the Reds.
"We were in it at half time and then after that intercept the game was pretty much done," Toomua said.
"I was glad we got back into a contest but ultimately you can't give a team like that such a big lead."
After spending the week on the road due to COVID-19 restrictions Queensland will return home to host the Brumbies next Saturday night with the top two teams jostling for a home final.
Australian Associated Press