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Ex-NRL star’s ‘heart in mouth’ moment stuns

There were tense moments in the Queensland Reds camp as Suliasi Vunivalu looked to have done himself a mischief off the back of a brilliant intercept.

The former Melbourne Storm star was right at home at AAMI Park in the Super Round closer, sprinting away from the Western Force defence to run the length of the field

Then, within a few metres of the try line, he began to slow and then hopped in pain before falling to the ground.

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The chasing trio all leapt on Vunivalu, but he reached out and planted the ball in goal to score his sole try of the match.

After the 71-20 onslaught in round two of Super Rugby Pacific, the Reds confirmed Vunivalu had suffered cramp.

There was reason for concern at the time, given Vunivalu’s history with injury. In 2021, he sat out the Rugby Championship due to a hamstring tear.

The former NRL star, who joined the Reds in 2020, is eyeing an opportunity with the Wallabies and a shot at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

Watch the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season on the home of rugby, Stan Sport. All matches streaming ad free, live and on demand

“That runaway try was heart-in-mouth stuff to watch, particularly towards the end,” said Stan Sport commentator Nick McArdle.

Former Wallabies international Morgan Turinui added, “It’s a tempo run. I’ve never seen a guy so quick at 50 per cent. 

“When a guy takes the line break you’d think they’d sprint, but then it looked like the calf cramped – and hopefully not a tear – then he gets there.”

Josh Flook, who was trailing Vunivalu and scored the final try of the match, said he was struggling too.

“I was coming up on his right, I was in the same boat a bit, I was cramping up hoping he would get there,” said Flook.

‘Biggest score ever’ in Reds history

“It was just a little cramp, first game back obviously putting in a big shift. He played a really good game.”

Vunivalu’s try was one of 10 in what was the final match of Super Round in Melbourne.

That matched the most number of tries for the Reds in Super Rugby Pacific history, equalling their effort against the Sunwolves.

The Reds head to the capital to play the Brumbies in round three.

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