The Reds have defeated the Brumbies 20-13 in a tight, hard-fought game. Important for the Reds, there was a return of commitment. Commitment to defence, a commitment to contest at ruck and lineout time, commitment to the game plan and a commitment to retain possession.
‘Retain possession?’ I hear you say, ‘They kicked the ball away 50 times!’ But the possession I’m talking about that won at the ruck and maul. Most of the marginal passes off the floor were gone and that’s a good thing. The defence had structure and sting. Also a good thing. The attack was willing, but not at 2011 standards. Not close.
But there were two teams playing. The Brumbies started slowly their forward pack look clinical at the breakdown and Nic White was a real handful at halfback. The Waratahs must be ruing swapping Ben Mowen for Rocky Elsom. He was outstanding again. Joe Tomane was a handful every time he got the ball and his runs with White were very pretty to watch. Jesse Mogg at fullback looked dynamic and fast.
As I predicted the game really came down to the back rows. Jake White went for size and Ewen McKenzie went for speed to the breakdown. McKenzie’s tactic worked. The Brumbies were starved of possession for great parts of the first half. Ita Vaea’s involvement rate has been sky-high lately, but the Reds managed to just about play him out of the game completely and his replacement at the 50-minute mark may have been a little late. Mowen and Kimlin (or ‘Kilmin’, if you’re a FOXsport commentator) were outstanding. Beau Robinson, who has been subdued this season, roared back into form in the 6 jersey, Gill was a pest a openside flanker, and two-try hero Scott Higginbotham continued his outstanding season taking on the No. 8 role with aplomb. I’m a big fan of this back row for the Reds. I think Robinson fits easily into the blindside role, Gill is a natural openside and Higginbotham is dynamic around the field and in the lineout. They do lack bulk and this may count against them in some matches.
The Brumbies paid the price for letting the Reds score 14 points in the first 30 minutes. This turned out to be a match-winning lead but in reality the Brumbies were never out of the game. They scored 10 points of their own when Gill was sinbinned at the 60-minute mark for being a serial pest. The last 20 minutes of this game were nerve-wracking for Reds fans. The yellow card and the knowledge that the Brumbies were strong finishers led to more than one nervous moment. In fact the Brumbies got to within 4 points and it wasn’t until the final minute that the Reds pulled it out to a 7 -oint margin.
Queensland Reds 20 (Scott Higginbotham 2 tries Sam Lane 2 cons 2 pens)
Brumbies 13 (Joseph Tomane try Christian Lealiifano con 2 pens) at Suncorp Stadium.
Referee: Steve R. Walsh. Crowd: 31,479.
Aiden Toua walked off with a leg injury. Sam Lane was struggling at the end of the match. Injury or fatigue? I don’t know.
Dan Palmer and Ben Daley’s tough man images are in tatters after not being able to land a punch on each other.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say The Moment in this match wasn’t in the match at all. My moment was the team announcement on Reds TV Thursday night. The inclusion of Gill and Robinson on the flanks, Sam Lane at 10 and Aiden Toua at 13 signalled a real change for the Reds. These announcements had a significant influence on the game.
I thought of giving this to Sam Lane for his debut. Nic White was strong, decisive and fast for the Brumbies. But the Man has to be Scott Higginbotham. Two tries, a strong lineout and a lot of work around the park. No one came close.
The Talking Point
The People’s Elbow! Was it in or out? Scott Higginbotham’s first try involved one of those moments where parts of a player’s body are millimetres from the sideline. Did his elbow touch the chalk before he got the ball down or was it an obvious no-try? My seat was 20 metres from where the try was scored. My immediate reaction was no try but as I watched the replay I saw reason to hope. To tell the truth I wouldn’t have been upset with either decision. As it was, the try was awarded and converted, earning seven points and that was the exact margin the Reds won the game by.
The Final Word
Congratulations to Sam Lane on his Super Rugby debut. We saw enough last night to be excited about seeing you play many games for the Reds. You got that Sam? FOR THE REDS!
Seriously Sam, good luck where ever your career takes you.
- Preview: Reds V. Brumbies – A Tale Of Two Seasons. (greenandgoldrugby.com)
- Dwyer’s View: Super Rugby, Just Super (greenandgoldrugby.com)