The Queensland Reds has thrashed the New South Wales Waratahs to kickoff Super Rugby AU with a 41-7 win in Brisbane.
The home side was runners-up in last year's first edition of the Australian domestic competition and dominated the opening half on a muggy night after Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon had opened the scoring in front of a modest crowd at Lang Park.
Fullback Jock Campbell, hooker Alex Mafi and winger Filipo Daugunu crossed in the space of nine minutes to give the home side an imposing early advantage in the latest edition of an inter-state rivalry that goes back to 1882.
The Waratahs' hopes of fighting their way back into the match suffered a hammer blow just before halftime when centre Izaia Perese was shown a red card on debut for a tip tackle on Hunter Paisami.
Under law variations being used in the competition, the dismissal left the visitors short-handed for only 20 minutes before the Waratahs were allowed to replace the former Reds player.
The second half was a scrappy affair as the energy-sapping humidity took its toll and it was not until 10 minutes from time that Daugunu scored his second try to earn the bonus point, with Ilaisa Droasese adding a fifth at the death.
Reds skipper James O'Connor had a flawless night from the tee, kicking two penalties and five conversions, and played an integral role in the best try of the night.
Brumbies cruise to victory over Wester Force to start title defence
The defending champions ACT Brumbies started their title defence in style and have ruined the homecoming of the Western Force with a professional performance in Perth.
Brumbies' Noah Lolesio, Irae Simone and Issak Fines all scored tries as the inaugural champions won 27-11 against the Force in front of a COVID-capacity crowd of 10,000 as Super Rugby returned to Perth for the first time since 2017.
The home side hopes got an early boost when Ian Prior slotted over a penalty but Lolesio, who contributed 17 points, levelled matters before crossing the line for the first try as the Brumbies established their superiority and went 13-6 up at the break.
Two more tries in the second half had the Brumbies headed for a bonus point but this was denied them by a late consolation try for the Force, as Argentine international Tomas Cubelli darted over to the delight of the home supporters.