This was a match that was both infuriating and full of hope after the Queensland Reds led (yes, led some of the match) only to end with a draw against the Blues. The Blues dropped some ball and didn’t capitalise on their own attacking plays which let the Reds off the hook. The Reds finally looked like getting the ball into the hands of the wingers but in the end blew their lead. And my kingdom for a flanker who can pilfer.
The Blues opened the score with a try to Ihaia West, built off the back of some handling errors by the Queensland Reds. The match had started to look like same old, same old. The Blues sustained the pressure on the Reds line and came away with the points.
The Blues had a very strong defensive lineout and continuing in the same vein as last week v the Rebels, the Reds lineout had the wobbles. Lots for Simmons and co to work on. Andrew Ready had a brilliant game as hooker at scrum time, and was all over the park outside that, but unfortunately some of his lineout throws let him down.
Chris Feauai-Sautia scored a brilliant, come from nowhere try that had the Reds fans on their feet for the first time in half a season. McIntyre positioned his kick well for CFS to capitalise on and is starting to pair well with Frisby at this level.
Another defensive lapse by the Queensland Reds saw Bryn Hall score off a great pass from Lolagi Visinia but the conversion was unsuccessful.
The second half resumed with a brilliant try from Samu Kerevi that saw him dive like we haven’t seen a dive since Benny Tune. Frisby offloaded from a scrum to Nabuli (promising, but still needs work) who broke the line and passed inside for Kerevi to dot over. McIntyre crossed a few minutes later for his own try.
McIntyre’s try was a great set of play from the Reds backs: McIntyre to Nabuli to Frisby and back to McIntyre. The Reds fans were on their feet with joy.
At this point the Reds were in the lead 25-15 and Reds fans were daring to hope like they hadn’t hoped since 2012*. It was then that the Blues struck with a converted try to Guyton to bring the score to 25-22. The constant scrum infringements were finally enough for Andrew Lees who finally binned Sione Mafileo. One wonders why Umaga hadn’t benched him to stop the ridiculous number of scrum penalties.
We botched the lineout (see a pattern here?) that saw the Blues building phase upon phase inside the 22, seeking a penalty from the desperate Reds. 21 phases later saw Neville give away that penalty and despite the players wanting to go for the try a man down, the coaching box overruled and they took the kick to draw the match.
Objectively, a somewhat surprising move by Umaga that showed a low level of faith in his players. He was happy with the draw away from home. Not sure if that will translate to future hunger for the team or reinforce that good enough is well, good enough. The phase-building was really well done by the Blues, the strategy of wearing us down was the right one.
In the end it was some poor kicking from McIntyre that meant we were points short on the scoreboard at full-time. Goromaru was once again a hot topic at the press conference with lots of questions from the Japanese press but his goal kicking isn’t much better, so McIntyre needs to shape up in that department.
The handling from both teams was choppy, mainly due to the humidity which was excessive for March. I mean seriously, my hair went frizzy. Not cool.
Queensland Reds fans will undoubtedly be infuriated but rationally it will take a very long time to turn this ship successfully and they shouldn’t expect too much. The players are young and inexperienced at this level. Normally an inexperienced player is surrounded by those with 60+ caps who make it easy to integrate and help smooth some of the bumps. This team doesn’t have that luxury.
In many ways they are still the Baby Reds (the Under 20s don’t have much less experience!) and the board and exec approach to the coaching situation meant that we didn’t have a full range of options for inbound, experienced recruitment. It also meant the Queensland Reds also lost experienced players to the European clubs, the Rebels and the Force.
Tana Umaga will be more disappointed that the co-interim coaches of Nick Stiles and Matt O’Connor – the Reds were working from a lower base and I think showed more promise. O’Connor talked about the ‘time in the seat’ for the halves combination of Frisby and McIntyre. Most fans will be happy with giving them that as long as the 1. Stop the box kicks and 2. McIntyre becomes more adept at goal kicking. His current form belies his NRC success.
So yes, fans were screaming for a win, and deserved one for their support of this erstwhile team, but the draw continues to be a step in the right direction of a very, very long journey. #REDsurgence (thanks Reg)
The Game Changer
Kerevi’s try in the 55th minute saw momentum shift the way of the Reds and both that and the following try by McIntyre saw the Reds backline begin to fire this season.
The G&GR MOTM
I did struggle with this a little because I thought that some players were outstanding for a part of their game and not great in others. Ready, Frisby and Hunt fell into that category.
In the end, awarding the MOTM to the Queensland Reds scrum. Have never seen the crowd so excited about scrums! It was a beast and is developing it’s own aura. Let’s see how it stands up against the Tahs pack next week.
Ready is developing well. He isn’t on the Wallaby watch for this year, but in a few short years’ time I think he will be on the list. Will be interesting to see if signing Moore helps or hinders his development.
Score & Scorers
Tries: C. Feauai-Sautia (13), S. Kerevi (55), J. McIntyre (60)
Conversions: J. McIntyre (14), J. McIntyre (56)
Penalties: J. McIntyre (32), J. McIntyre (38)
Tries: I. West (10), B. Hall (18), B. Guyton (74)
Conversions: I. West (11), I. West (75)
Penalties: I. West (17), I. West (80)
Cards & citings