It seems like we talk about last chances for the Queensland Reds every week. This week’s game looms as a huge test as they take on the inform Hurricanes. This is the Reds first trip to New Zealand this year and they will need to perform like the Reds of old to take the points. While they have shown glimpses they have been all too fleeting this year.
Who will take the points? Can the Reds get ‘up’ for James Horwills 100th match? Or will the Hurricanes continue on their march up the New Zealand conference ladder?
The Reds kicked off on a still Wellington evening and tried to keep the Hurricanes deep in their half. But while the Reds spent much of the first six minutes in the Hurricanes’ half they never mounted any pressure and it was only poor handling that kept them there. Suddenly the Reds clicked their switch to ‘on’ and Quade Cooper put Beau Robinson through a hole and he in turn was able to use the numbers available behind the Hurricanes defensive line to put Ben Lucas away on the right edge. Cooper missed the conversion but the Reds still lead 5-0
Then, just as quickly as it arrived, the Reds went back to business as usual and the game back to a drop ball fest. Suddenly the Hurricanes passes started to stick and they started to make metres around the ruck. The momentum allowed the Hurricanes to score two great tries through Corey Jane down the right side of the field. The Reds left side defence looked very shaky. After each try the Hurricanes gave away a long range penalty and Quade Cooper slotted both of them to have the Reds ahead 11-10 at the 30 minute mark.
In the ten minutes to half time the Reds managed to play with a little continuity and pressured the Hurricanes’ defence. Much of this period was again played in the Hurricanes’ half and except for another penalty to Cooper, the Reds never looked like scoring. The half time score of 14-10 to the Reds will have had neither coach happy with their sides performance
The Reds started the second half badly and were lucky not to give away a penalty and a try in the fist four minutes. The Hurricanes were now dominating territory and possession and it was only a matter of time before they scored. After a break down the right side TJ Peranara burrowed over after a Hurricanes ruck centimetres from the Reds line. Barrett slotted the conversion to have the Hurricanes 17-14.
Greg Holmes replaced Ben Daley in the Reds front row and the difference in the scrum was very visible. But it wasn’t enough to get the Reds out of trouble and after sustained pressure Cory Jane was in for his third try of the night. The Reds coaches decide to replace JJ Taulagi with Rod Davies after the third try down his wing and Davies as an immediate positive impact on the game. Barrett added another penalty to his tally and the Hurricanes lead slid out to 25-14.
An injury to Will Genia brought Nick Frisby to the ground and the Reds lifted their intensity immediately. The Reds worked their way into the Hurricanes 22 and a series of lightning fast rucks saw James Hanson crash over and with the conversion the Reds are suddenly back in the game trailing 25-21.
The Reds were in the game on the scoreboard but on the field it was another story. In the 76th minute Ardie Savea crashed through Nick Frisby to score under the posts. That put the game out of reach for the Reds. Barrett potted another penalty a minute later to push the score out to 35-21. And that was the final score.
The Hurricanes didn’t play their best rugby but they were easily better than the Reds. Defensive lapses and the lack of a impact player to bend the line is really hurting them.
The Game Changer
The Hurricanes came out after half time and fixed a lot of their errors from the first half. After the break they never looked like losing. Chris Feauai-Sautia was pulled up for taking a quick throw with a foot in the field. This is the correct call although I’m not sure if the Hurricanes should have got the feed to the resulting scrum or it should have been a re-throw. But my gripe is that I saw the Hurricanes do it three times this game and I’ve seen and commented on it half a dozen time this weekend. It must be frustrating for sides to have such random decisions during a game I know it frustrates the hell out of me.
The G&GR MOTM
This is a tough one None of the Reds really stood up but one player had a good night. My MOTM is James Slipper. He held up the scrum, tackled well, ran well, and made a few metres.
Besides Slipper? Rob Simmons? Mike Harris? Quade Cooper is struggling. Trying too hard to make things happen is effecting his game badly.
Score & Scorers
[one_half last=”no”]Hurricanes: 35
Tries: Cory Jane 3(16:30, 22:45, 55:00), TJ Peranara(45:11), Ardie Savea(76:00)
Conversions: Barrett 2
Penalties: Barrett 2 [/one_half]
[one_half last=”yes”]Reds: 21
Tries: Ben Lucas (6:50), James Hanson(66:20)
Conversions: Quade Cooper 1
Penalties: Quade Cooper 3 [/one_half]
Cards & citings