Queensland Reds

Match Preview: Reds finally meet their cut Force kin

Match Preview: Reds finally meet their cut Force kin

It’s a clash that, despite not having been played for about four years, still is one of the most intense clashes in Super Rugby – at least off the field. There are some single-minded Reds fans who still haven’t forgiven the ‘newcomers’ of the West for poaching many of our key players.  Like Nathan Sharpe. And Digby Ioane. And Luke Doherty. And Junior Pelesasa. And Scott Daruda. And Rudi Vedelago. And Tai McIsaacs. And Dave Te Moana. And Tajhon Mailata. And Josh Graham. And Vitori Buatava. And Matt Windle. And Brett Stapelton. And Richard Brown. And Josh Fuimaono. And Ben Ward. Oh…and David Pocock.

Meanwhile there are some single-minded Force fans who still haven’t forgiven the Reds for being…well, for being on the east coast of Australia it seems.

You have to go all the way back to 2017 to find the last time the Western Force actually beat the Reds which would be significant if it wasn’t for the fact that you have to go back to 2015 for the last time the Reds beat the Force.  All up, the lads from the West hold the upper hand with nine wins out of the teams’ 18 clashes, one of which was a draw.

The Teams

Andrew Ready

Andrew Ready back at his old stomping ground

The Force are coming off their first game of the Super Rugby season, a loss to the Waratahs in Sydney.  They started wonderfully and looked by far the more disciplined and structured team. While the Waratahs came back, the Force made many people sit up and take notice and definitely have Reds fans on edge this weekend.

Once again there is a heavy Queensland influence in their side, most notably the three who were a part of the 2011 Championship team. Greg Holmes, Jono Lance and Ian Prior will feel very much at home at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. At the same time Angus Wagner, Feleti Kaitu’u, Byron Ralston, Andrew Ready, Henry Teafu as well as travelling squad member s Nick Frisby and Jake Strachan will all enjoy the chance to catch up with family while back home. So too will coaches Tim Sampson and Van Humphreys.

The Reds are unconvincingly undefeated at the moment, on the back of a first round late run home to claim victory over the Tahs, and a 2nd round draw with the Rebels. While the scrum is excellent, and the forward general play is strong, both the lineout and the backline attack is struggling to deliver and must improve if they are to claim another win.

They’ve suffered a huge blow with lock Angus Blyth out because of a minor shoulder injury.  It sees Angus Scott-Young, who has played all his professional rugby in the backrow, now partner Lukhan Salakai-Loto for an all-hyphen lock combination.  Chris Feauai-Sautia gets a well deserved start on the wing, with Jock Campbell back to fullback where he stood out earlier this year.

There are a bucketload of changes on the bench with new prop cover in Dane Zander and Jack Stracker in line for a potential debut.  Another potential debutant is Ryan Smith as back up lock.

Key Match Ups

Jono Lance scored a try and kicked 6 goals in his last game for the Queensland Reds

Jono Lance back at his old stomping ground

Flyhalf is such a cliché, but this really is one to watch.  Two hardened veterans of multiple clubs and stints overseas.  One with extensive Wallaby caps, the other with a couple of Super Rugby titles. Each with a strong affinity to the Gold Coast…Jono Lance and James O’Connor hold the destiny of this match in their hands.  Lance, despite his versatility, appears extremely comfortable in the 10 jersey and has a natural inclination to get his backline moving forward in attack while underplaying his hand.  O’Connor, because of his versatility, appears still somewhat uncomfortable in the 10 jersey.  While the Reds backline has not yet clicked, JOC came up with three huge plays (four if you included the intercept) that were significant factors in the outcome.

Just one position further in we have another classic match up as Ian Prior matches up against Tate McDermott.  Both from the University of Queensland rugby club in Brisbane’s western suburbs, Prior has easily slipped into Matt Hodgson’s talisman role for the Force.  Not only are is cunning wiles around the pack a valued link between his well drilled pack and precise backline, but his goal kicking is arguably the best on the comp. McDermott, on the other end of the career spectrum, is more individual brilliance and flash.  Their contrasting styles, and indeed the quality ball they provide their respective halves partners, will be a big factor in this game.

Prediction:

Of course, I am going to pick the Reds, but am I entirely confident about it? No. I think if they play to their potential, what we saw glimpses of earlier this year, then they can. By a bit.  But we haven’t seen much of that so far this Super Rugby AU season so the confidence is not so high.  Reds by 4.

Teams:

Chris Feauai-Sautia runs the ball with Nick Frisby offering moral support

Nick Frisby back at his old stomping ground

Reds

1. Harry Hoopert
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa
3. Taniela Tupou
4. Angus Scott-Young
5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
6.  Liam Wright [c]
7. Fraser McReight
8. Harry Wilson
9. Tate McDermott
10. James O’Connor
11. Filipo Daugunu
12. Hamish Stewart
13. Hunter Paisami
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia
15. Jock Campbell

16. Alex Mafi
17. Dane Zander
18. Jack Straker
19. Ryan Smith
20. Tuaina Taii Tualima
21. Scott Maloula
22. Josh Flook
23. Bryce Hegarty

Force

1 Angus Wagner
2 Feleti Kaitu’u
3 Kieran Longbottom
4 Jeremy Thrush
5 Fergus Lee-Warner
6 Henry Stowers
7 Tevin Ferris
8 Brynard Stander
9 Ian Prior [c]
10 Jono Lance
11  Brad Lacey
12 Nick Jooste
13 Marcel Brache
14 Byron Ralston
15 Jack McGregor

16 Andrew Ready
17 Chris Heiberg
18 Greg Holmes
19 Ollie Callen
20 Ollie Atkins
21 Jacob Abel
22 Henry Taefu
23 Kyle Godwin

MATCH DEETS

Date: Friday 17 July 2020
Venue: Suncorp Stadium Brisbane
Kick-Off: 7:05pm East Coast Elite Time
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan 

Queensland Reds
@RugbyReg

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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