It’s been a rough season for the Force, in so many matches they’ve been in the hunt only to fall in the final quarter. They’ve been far from disgraced but have not been able to accumulate leaderboard points and now find themselves out of the hunt for a finals birth.
Conversely, the Reds season was humming along swimmingly until the disastrous flogging at the hands of their oldest enemy, the Waratahs, two weeks ago. Last weeks legendary defensive effort against the Rebels has gone some way to restoring the fans faith in the side but there is still lingering doubt over the Reds in general.
Are the Reds back on track? Can the Force overcome the odds and win their first match? With perfect conditions on the Gold Coast, there’s no better time to find out.
The Reds made metres from there very first touch but couldn’t make it count. What followed was 15 minutes of both teams feeling each other out until Andrew ready got binged for not releasing in the tackle. O’Connor drove the ball deep into the Force’s half and Petaia nearly scored off the lineout move. quick play and some nice touches from the forward pack saw Tupoa crash over for a try that was almost immediately pulled back for a slight knock-on in the lead-up. The Reds had an advantage from a previous infringement and off the resulting lineout, Daugunu strolled over off an inside pass from O’Connor.
The Reds lost their second centre to injury about 25 minutes into the match. Flook dislocated his shoulder early on and then Stewart hobbled off with a hip injury. The new centre parring is O’Connor 12 and Petaia 13 with Hegarty at flyhalf.
At about the 30-minute mark the Reds, with their reshuffled backline, found themselves with a lineout in the Force 22. The reshuffle didn’t seem to hinder the Reds at all when O’Connor looped around Hegarty and offloaded in traffic to send Daugunu over for his second try.
A late penalty saw the Reds leading 15-0 at halftime.
James O’Connor is turning it on against the @westernforce on the Gold Coast.
— RUGBYcomau (@rugbycomau) August 21, 2020
The Force scored a much-needed try minutes into the second half. After a series of penalties, the force camped five metres from the Reds line. They won a lineout and former Red Andrew Ready steered the resulting maul over the line for the try.
The Reds restored their lead with O’Connor throwing an around the corner pass in traffic to a hard-running Frasier McReight who bulldozed his way over the line. Two quick tries to Tate McDermott sealed the game for the Reds. The first was a sneaky run down a metre long blindside 15 metres out. and the second was a quick tap 40 metres out an then a sensational run from the little halfback.
The force defence was in tatters by the 65 minutes and their scrum was on skates. Late tries to Hegarty and Tualima finished the match for the Force and the Reds finished up 57-5 winners.
The Game Changer
The Reds always looked the stronger side but a try just after halftime had the Force still in it. Longbottom’s yellow card and McDermott’s two quick tries seemed to break the Forces spirit and they never recovered.
The G&GR MOTM
In a dominant display, both McDermott and O’Connor stood out as individuals and as halves partners. McDermott was an inch from scoring a third try and played out of his skin but, O’Connor scored a try, kicked eight from nine and set up at least three of the Reds tries. He’s my man of the match.
BPA threw straight! But more importantly, was everywhere in the loose with silky hands and passing. Wilson and McReight sat two passes off the ruck in defence and lead the line all night putting massive pressure on the Force backs. Ably assisted by Jordan Petaia. Daugunu had a huge game and Taniela Tupou once again showed his class. Did I mention Liam Wright? More lineout steals and a perfect foil for his backrow partners.
Score & Scorers
Reds : 57
Tries: Daugunu 2, McReight, McDermott 2, O’Connor, Hegarty, Tualima
Force : 5
Kieren Longbottom (YC)