Number two on the conference table vs number four. One team coming off a surprise win, two surprise wins actually, and the other coming off the plane from South Africa and two losses. This is the first time Volde-Q (credit sambo6) returns to Hog-corp to take on Harry Hegarty and his band of Gryffin-reds, since being banished to the Badlands in 2018. (Yeah, yeah I have mixed my movie references, but I ran out of HP knowledge.) The presence of the club socks just added to the atmosphere. Or confusion in some cases.
There were late changes to the Reds with Chris Feauai-Sautia tweaking a hammy (are we surprised) at training on Thursday, resulting in a back-line shuffle. Duncan Paia’aua came off the bench into 12, Samu Kerevi moved out to 13, and Jack Hardy came on to the bench.
First scoring opportunity fell to Cooper who slotted a penalty after the Reds were caught offside 2 minutes in. Rebels returned the favour by not releasing the ball and Hegarty got the scores back level within 5 mins. If this was to keep-up we were going to be in for a large scoring night. If. A big IF.
That was about where the handling descended into atrociousness due to the large quantities of rain earlier in the day, and the humidity, and the dew. Let’s give them those excuses, because terrible skills would be just too depressing. To summarise – the first half was scrappy. VERY scrappy. Both sides showed glimpses of what they should be able to do…… but both sides destroyed their opportunities with some rather silly errors.
The only try of the first half came in the 39th minute. With the referee playing an advantage for the Reds being off side, Volda-Q took a punt and kicked across to the wind where a flying Jack Maddocks soared over Hamish Stewart and crashed to the ground to score. The conversion was unsuccessful on the buzzer and the teams entered the sheds with the Reds trailing 6 – 11.
The second half started as badly for the Reds as the first finished. A series of penalties gave the Rebels a line out 5 metres out. They setup the driving maul and drove Anaru Rangi over and to the ground. And soon after Paia’aua dropped the ball and gifted Maddocks his second for the night after a kick ahead from Volda-Q to make it 25-6.
At this point I started to wonder if it wasn’t the Reds who had spent a fair bit of the week traveling around the world. Not to take anything away from the Rebels, but the Reds scrum wasn’t working, the lineout wasn’t functioning, they couldn’t catch, couldn’t pass and the kicks were ugly. The Reds gifted the Rebels most of their points through penalties. Valid or not they will still go down in the books as penalties. Actually, I am not sure who had the worse game, the Reds or the Officials.
Once Brandon Paenga-Amosa had a try disallowed in the 59th minute for, um, for, um, well it doesn’t really matter it was disallowed. Once this happened the Reds dropped their heads. I stopped making notes and the Reds started to pick fights.
Well that was ugly.
Match Turning Point
It was all one way traffic tonight. The Volda-Q and his team were here to prove a point. The turning point – when Brad Thorn decided last year that he did not require the services of a particular fly half.
It might be easier to list off the Worst OTM. The first half was ugly and the second half was scrappy with the Rebels making the best of their opportunities. Isi Naisarani was probably the pick of a team who all played reasonably without a standout. Special mention to Jack Maddocks for his two tries, but his poor handling bombed a few other opportunities.
Cheika could do worse than selecting many of the Rebels. Jones, Cottrell and Naisarani made a cohesive backrow, but we know that is not going to happen. Hodge, Maddocks, Genia, Philip, Coleman and Volda-Q would also not be out of place. As for the Reds….. nothing to see here. Move along.
Reds – 13
Conv: Hegarty (1/1)
Penalties: Hegarty (2/2)
Rebels – 32
Tries: Maddocks (2); Rangi; Leota
Conv: He-who-must-not-be-named (3/4)
Penalties: He-who-must-not-be-named (2/2)