TOOWOOMBA, Qld - Quade Cooper displayed many of his sublime skills but finished red-faced in his Super Rugby trial return as Queensland outlasted a spirited young Blues outfit on Saturday night.
The Reds scored seven close-range tries to five by the physical Blues to win an entertaining pre-season cobweb-duster 41-35 at a packed Toowoomba Sports Ground.
Part-time boxer Cooper mixed mostly good, with some bad and ugly in his 60 minutes on the field in his only hit-out before Queensland's Super Rugby campaign kicks off against the Brumbies in Canberra in a fortnight.
In his first rugby appearance in five months, the Wallabies playmaker set up a long-range break with his first touch of the ball - an inside pop pass to Digby Ioane - and also produced some signature jinking steps and flick passes.
But his last two acts on the field left a sour taste in Cooper's mouth as he was one of many barrelled by powerful winger Albert Nikoro and then stripped of the ball minutes later.
Both mistakes led to Blues tries as John Kirwan's young team stormed back into the contest to trail 29-28 at the three-quarter break.
Cooper's goalkicking, given the duties for his sole pre-season trial ahead of sharpshooter Mike Harris, was more rusty.