The Force roll into town fresh from knocking off the defending champs in Sydney to play a Reds team smarting after being given a lesson by the Brumbies.
Late news – Due to the rain and other severe weather in and around Brisbane, this game is in some doubt of going ahead. A decision on whether it goes ahead will be made on Saturday at 8am Brisbane time. – Ed.
Like the last time I wrote a preview for the Reds, they are coming off another shocker. This time though, instead of being fined for giving the refs a spray, Big Kev Horwill got the red card and it was the Brumbies, not the Saders, dishing out the hiding. Be that as it may, it does seem as if not a lot has changed in Queensland. I can’t recall a more inept Reds performance since they shipped 90 odd against the Bulls in 2007.
Sure, they handed debuts to 7 players (one of whom is an ex Kangaroo mungo with a season of Union in France) but that doesn’t explain how badly the wheels fell off last week. It wasn’t just a lack of commitment, it was endless penalties, a lack of referee management and extremely poor tactics. Ex All Black Adam Thompson must have been looking on shaking his head thinking “i should have asked for more money”.
Rolling into town is a tough Force outfit who are fresh from beating the Waratahs in their own paddock last week. The Force looked abrasive, smart, no nonsense and, above all, committed in the way they played to get a 4 try bonus against the Tahs. In short, they looked everything the Reds didn’t last week. They will present a tough challenge but that’s the nature of Super Rugby.
The Force will come to Suncorp feeling pretty confident that they can start the season with 2 wins from 2. They were able to prevent the Waratahs from getting into their stride and, like Force teams do, compete really well at the break down and get a reasonable platform from set piece. Central to their game seems to be Alby Mathewson’s crisp passing and sniping runs along with a hard direct runners who get over the gain line, which sets a target for that tough pack to run at. It’s simple, it’s effective and I like to watch it.
It’s hard to know what kind of game plan to expect from the Reds as there didn’t seem to be one last week. They looked alright in the pre-season so a win here might silence a few critics and show last week was a one off. A loss, especially a bad one, and well, who knows?
For sure Reds fans will be looking for a lot more commitment to making tackles, winning collisions and getting some of the basic skills correct such those listed in The Dead Ball Area’s video. Upping the intensity ought to be no issue and, as super and test level players, the basic skills ought to be there but the tactics might the issue.
BREAKING TEAMS NEWS UPDATE!!!!
Karmichael Hunt dropped after it emerges that he is the subject of an on-going Queensland Police investigation into cocaine. Reds official statement here.
At fly half James O’Conner will start at 10 after some time abroad for well publicised off-field screw ups.
Duncan Paia’aua has been ruled out following a head knock in last week’s match so Sam Johnson takes his place as a utility on the bench.
Adam Thomson will make a Reds debut at blindside flanker causing Curtis Browning to shift to the bench. In other forward news Tom Murday replaces Ed O’Donoghue at lock for a debut at the relatively old age of 26.
For the Force, Pek Cowan drops out of the squad to be replaced by Francois Van Wyk, otherwise it’s an unchanged pack. In the backline, Zack Holmes comes in for Dane Haylett-Petty at fullback.
On the pine, Chris Heiberg comes in and also Mitchell Scott and Luke Burton complete things, otherwise it’s the same as last week.
Key Match Ups
How James O’Conner plays at fly half compared to Sias Ehbersohn will be crucial. The Reds looked pretty rudderless against the Brumbies’ blitz defence and how Rabbits moves the team around the field will be a key issue. He has fast feet and lots of skills but many (including your humble scribe) see him as a wing. Here’s a chance to prove us wrong.
Adam Thomson will be tested by the excellent Ben McCalman at the breakdown. In addition to providing some go forward, he could be the latest Red kiwi on the flank to add some much needed smarts (remember Luke Braid a few years back?). Either way, he’s in for a shift on Saturday.
I think the Force play for each other in a way the Reds don’t and they have a game plan that suits them. I can’t see the Reds being as bad as last week but I think the Force will get there by under 5.
Reds v Force
|James Slipper (c)||1||Francois van Wyk|
|Saia Fainga'a||2||Nathan Charles|
|Sam Talakai||3||Tetera Faulkner|
|Marco Kotze||4||Sam Wykes|
|James Horwill||5||Adam Coleman|
|Adam Thomson||6||Angus Cottrell|
|Liam Gill||7||Chris Alcock|
|Jake Schatz||8||Ben McCalman|
|Will Genia||9||Alby Mathewson|
|Nick Frisby||10||Sias Ebersohn|
|Campbell Magnay||11||Marcel Brache|
|Samu Kerevi||12||Solomoni Jnr Rasolea|
|Chris Feauai-Sautia||13||Kyle Godwin|
|Chris Kuridrani||14||Luke Morahan|
|Lachie Turner||15||Zack Holmes|
|James Hanson||16||Heath Tessmann|
|Ben Daley||17||Chris Heiberg|
|Sef Faagase||18||Oliver Hoskins|
|Tom Murday||19||Steve Mafi|
|Curtis Browning||20||Brynard Stander|
|Tom Banks||21||Ian Prior|
|Sam Johnson||22||Luke Burton|
|Dave McDuling||23||Mitchell Scott|
|Location:||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane|
|Kickoff:||Sat 21 Feb 19:40|
|Assistant Ref 1:||Matt O'Brien|
|Assistant Ref 2:||Damien Mitchelmore|
|TMO :||George Ayoub|