James O'Connor's latest injury setback has soured a Queensland Reds win that snapped a four-game Super Rugby Pacific losing streak.
The Reds stuttered their way to a 34-22 victory over the last-placed Moana Pasifika at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.
A try in the 80th minute for Pasifika No.8 Henry Time-Stowers looked to have robbed the Reds of a bonus point, crucial in their tight fight with the NSW Waratahs for sixth spot.
That eventually proved to be the case, but not before a brilliant 80 metre team try finished by captain Tate McDermott was overturned due to a forward pass.
The Reds were sweating as Pasifika moved to 22-15 with the first try after the break and no sooner playing with two less men when Matt Faessler and Fraser McReight were sin-binned in quick succession for repeat infringements,
But a Jock Campbell double, well-deserved five-pointers to Harry Hoopert and Fraser McReight and a late intercept try for Harry Wilson was enough for the Reds (7-5).
"A step in the right direction as far as getting a W-I-N," Reds coach Brad Thorn spelt out.
"There was a bonus point there, probably a pretty important one, that we could have had but gave it away.
"It's an 80 minute game, so it's that ruthlessness to get a job done
"And we slipped up again tonight."
O'Connor's exit with 20 minutes to play was a worry though, particularly for Wallabies coach Dave Rennie as he watched from the sidelines ahead of July's England Test series.
The No.10 had only returned from a knee injury last week and was again grimacing as he felt around that area, applying ice to his lower hamstring as he called it a night.
He had earlier set up two tries with short kicks and returned a calmness to the Reds' attack that put him in strong contention to wear the Wallabies' No.10 this year.
At best it would leave the crucial playmaker in doubt for the trip to face the Crusaders next week, with a quarter-final against either the Brumbies or the same opponents to follow a week later.
Reds' centre Josh Flook also had his bright performance ruined by a painful shoulder injury, the youngster needing the green whistle as he was taken from the field late in the contest.
Pasifika enforcer Timoci Tavatavanawai wreaked havoc with ball in hand, brushing off McDermott with a huge fend.
But McDermott laughed it off and then bravely stopped the winger's next run in another captain's knock for the hosts.
Pasifika captain Sekope Kepu rued some missed opportunities as they quickly regroup to play a catch-up game against the Western Force on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press
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