Happy homecoming for Cooper, Genia
Update: There was a time when the Will and Quade Show ignited confetti cannons and spread thrills through Reds fans when they clicked in a big win at Suncorp Stadium.
Instead, there were nothing but flat, defeated looks in the faces of Reds followers on Saturday night when they were dished up another false dawn by the worst performance of Queensland's season when the biggest was needed.
Halfback Will Genia and Quade Cooper were tormentors this time in the colours of the dominant Melbourne Rebels who deserved to win by more than 32-13.
Genia's smart flat passing, little darts and vocal direction got the Rebels rolling and he did well to get up to keep enjoying it after Reds prop Taniela Tupou flattened him like a 134kg torpedo to torso at the back of one ruck.
Playmaker Cooper's cross kick into the arms of soaring winger Jack Maddocks for the first try was all precision and four or five direct runs in the first half were full of his intent.
A step and spin by Samu Kerevi nearly got him to the tryline and his passing was most sharp.
He stripped Scott Higginbotham of one ball and such ball blunders and panic passing became a disease for the Reds who showed awful game awareness at times.
Cooper's career wandered off into a quarterback phase a few years ago when he directed too often without that direct play and preferred others to make the tackles.
Cooper is an infinitely better version than the 2017 Reds model and it has shone consistently at the Rebels where he has turned Maddocks into an eight-try force after two more on Saturday night.
Cooper will enjoy this more than he said publically post-match because it was a win over Brad Thorn, the coach who didn't want him and exiled him from the Reds squad last year.
"One man's rubbish is another man's treasure" was his social media post earlier this season and he added a little gravy post-match with Fox Sports on the sidelines.
"It wasn't the boys that didn't want me. They are your brothers you'd go to war with and I'll always be supporting them," Cooper said.
Thorn explained later that not making a fuss about Genia and Cooper returning to Suncorp Stadium didn't mean they ignored them in team planning.
"Publically, we didn't want to make a big thing about it but they are definitely guys we talked about in our preparation...Will as a real force them and Quade, who can be really dangerous with the footy," Thorn said.
"We were very disappointing but hats off to the Rebels, they were better and it's tough to win coming back from a South African trip."
All the best forwards wore Rebels jerseys too with the hammering defence of Angus Cottrell, Isi Naisarani's 12 runs for 74m, flanker Luke Jones' all-round game and lock Matt Philip's power all impressive.
Lock Izack Rodda and winger Sefa Naivalu were two of the only Reds to stand up.
Even when breakouts like a 35m dash from Duncan Paia'aua looked promising his kick ahead flew into touch on the full.
It was needless pushed passing that put the Reds under pressure in midfield early in the second half when Cooper toed through a loose ball that Maddocks pounced on for a try.
The Reds were put out of their misery at that point at 25-6 and the poor crowd of 10,745 had to grind their teeth.
Only starchy Reds defence held the half-time deficit to 11-6 because the Rebels commanded 68 per cent of the ball and an even higher percentage of territory.
MELBOURNE REBELS 32 (Jack Maddocks 2, Rob Leota, Anaru Rangi tries Quade Cooper 3 cons 2 pens) QUEENSLAND REDS 13 (Taniela Tupou try Bryce Hegarty con 2 pens) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: AJ Jacobs.