Reds survive Sharks scare at Suncorp - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Reds survive Sharks scare at Suncorp

Reds survive Sharks scare at Suncorp

The Reds are not Super Rugby champions nor favourites for the Australian Super Rugby conference, but if they can muster the same spirit they did on Friday night’s 28-26 win over the visiting Sharks, they deserve to be in the conversation – at least for the latter.

Two tries to Samu Kerevi and a mental toughness not seen for years were just enough to edge the Sharks, buoyed by a near-perfect night from the tee from Springbok Pat Lambie and some help from the referee.

Two yellow cards, one served to Kane Douglas in the 56th and the other to Karmichael Hunt in the 77th, threatened to sink the Reds at the final hurdle.

Instead, the Reds fought tooth and nail to the other end of the park and defended the narrowest of leads in front of 15,015 fans to secure their first victory at Suncorp Stadium since May, 2016.

Quade Cooper and George Smith added a wealth of experience to the Reds

Quade Cooper and George Smith added a wealth of experience to the Reds

The Match

Charged down kicks, forced passes, kicks out on the full, including when taken back into the 22m, were just some of the cohesion issues that plagued the Reds throughout the match, serving an ample reminder that the wrongs of old will need longer than one off-season to right.

The home side served up a sobering reminder of the Richard Graham era as an early Reds handling error was put to the sword by flanker Jean-Luc du Preez.

Still, there was plenty for the optimistic fan to latch on to as Quade Cooper manipulated the defence, an army of young guns fired and the outside backs trio continued to threaten their opposites.

Neither side could claim any great advantage in handling ability early though the Reds showed at least the desire to play expansively.

Lambie was gifted an easy first penalty goal as Scott Higginbotham rolled off his feet at the breakdown, 37 out from the posts.

A well-worked backline play sent Karmichael Hunt steaming into a half-gap out wide, linking with Kerevi to find space for Eto Nabuli. With one left to beat, Nabuli went over the top and looked to have scored through a pile of bodies, only to be held up.

Moments later that familiar Quade Cooper inside ball put Hunt through again, passing to find Frisby strolling into the backfield. Desperate scrambling defence forced an error from the Reds, denying support runner George Smith a try on debut.

Stephen Moore made a winning return to the Reds

Stephen Moore made a winning return to the Reds

Cooper converted a penalty goal in the 23rd minute to bring the Reds within four, but Lambie hit back with a wide penalty of his own five minutes later.

Flanker Adam Korczyk demonstrated why Nick Stiles had placed his faith in the 22-year-old, pouncing out of nowhere upon a Sharks quick lineout inside the 22m to force a knock-on.

Higginbotham finished off what Korczyk created with a pick-and-drive try under the posts to equalise, with Cooper’s successful conversion.

Lambie sent one last penalty goal flying behind the posts to end the half to secure the lead heading into the sheds.

Samu Kerevi scored two tries

Samu Kerevi scored two tries

An early offside penalty gifted Lambie his fifth goal of the night but the Reds would soon have their second try.

A 5m scrum deep inside the Sharks half gave Samu Kerevi just enough room to power through two tackles to cross, only to go unconverted in the 48th minute.

Kane Douglas was yellow-carded for a throw on loosehead Tendai Mtawarira, sending the Sharks to the corner for a siege by rolling maul.

Denied once, the Sharks were soon back – scoring this time through No.8 Lubabalo Mtembu.

With their backs against the wall, a flurry of points rescued the Reds – Samu Kerevi fighting through contact for a second before Cooper sent Paia’aua through on a sharp unders line, drawing the final man and putting away Bobby Tuttle for his first Super Rugby try and finally, a 28-26 lead.

Izack Rodda made a strong debut of the bench

Izack Rodda made a strong debut of the bench

Ahead by just two, a lunging Karmichael Hunt tackle on a falling Lwazi Mvovo struck the winger high, granting the previously faultless Lambie a chance to steal back the win with four minutes remaining.

A rare miss would prove the final shot the Sharks would fire before their flight to Canberra to take on the Brumbies.

Watchability rating: 5/10 in a frustrating arm wrestle that featured many bombed tries than successful ones.

The Game Changer

Duncan Paia’aua’s linebreak to create Bobby Tuttle’s maiden Super Rugby try snatched back the lead and ultimately the result, but any number of moments would have counted in a see-sawing fixture.

The injection of substitutes Tuttle and Izack Rodda marked the start of the Reds turned fortunes.


Adam Korczyk was a standout player for each of the 80 minutes he appeared, while substitute lock Izack Rodda provided a ton of lift.

Samu Kerevi scored 10 hard-earned points, while Patrick Lambie was incredible with the boot, from hand and from tee.

Wallaby watch

A miserly goal kicking performance from Quade Cooper may hurt his Wallabies stocks. Samu Kerevi proved the ole reliable yet again in Queensland colours.

The Details

Crowd: 15,015

Score & Scorers

Queensland Reds: 28
Tries: Scott Higginbotham, Samu Kerevi (x2), James Tuttle
Conversions: Cooper
Penalties: Cooper (x2)
Sharks: 25
Tries: Jean-Luc du Preez, Lubabalo Mtembu
Conversions: Pat Lambie (x2)
Penalties: Pat Lambie (x4)

Cards & citings

Yellow cards: Kane Douglas (56′), Karmichael Hunt (77′)

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    As a Brumbies man, I was so glad the Reds got the win tonight. Credit to the Sharks, they are a good team, and played well. What was most encouraging was the fact that there was room for improvement, even despite the win. God, I think most of the Aussie rugby fandom is breathing a small sigh of relief. Long way to go.

    • Rebels3

      Agreed. I’m obviously a rebels man, but am for the sake of Australian rugby wishing all teams the best. I will save my bias for when they play other aus teams

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      Likewise me NW. True blue Tahs fan through and through, and I was over the moon for those loud Reds fan that showed up for the first of the season. Disappointed that there was only 15,000 there. What’s up I wonder?

      With all the stuff-ups coming from the Reds, I thought ‘here we go again’. So I was impressed with the way they dug deep, backed themselves and got away with a close one against a pretty good Sharks team.

      If that’s how they played on their first outing, then there’s every reason to think the Reds can win the Oz conference. Hopefully Gibbo and the rest of the Tahs sat up and took notice.

      • Michael Jones

        I think a lot of people will get three game memberships and South African opponents don’t tend to rate as highly in Queenskand fan’s minds as Aussie or Kiwi ones do. Especially given the number of Kiwis in Brisbane. That considered 15000 isn’t too bad for this particular match.

  • mattyjinred

    I watched the game at the stadium and am normally pretty forgiving of the refs. That performance was abysmal.

    At one point there were two or three infringements in a row by the sharks in the danger zone and a yellow card was needed. Douglas I agree with as the new laws are tough around anything focuses on the head.

    He then missed a clear high shot five minutes later – just prior to sending Hunt to the bin for a lesser offence.

    Having seen the Hunt shot right in front of me (and numerous times on the big screen) it was careless as best and the opp player fell in to it – a penalty was all that was needed.

    For me the appeared to me to be indecisive at some points and over his head. He took a good game (with a lot of mistakes) and left a bad taste in the mouth. All I could think was if it was reversed and he made same calls against sharks in Durban, he would need to escorted out of the ground.

    I hope with the expanded tournament and some high profile retirements we dont see a drop in the quality of the reffing because from first three games it could be a pretty exciting end to end rugby.

    On the Reds they were scrappy (a tens tourny and one hit out shows) and showed guts to win. There is a lot of improvement needed. The young guys look the goods and I think the old heads mixed with the likes of Korczyk and Rodda (he is a monster and he is 20) things are looking good.

    Final thought – K Hunt is going to hurt some people this year with is tackling (counted 3 bone crunchers tonight) – loved it.

    • Lee Grant

      I didn’t think the officials were great either,

      From a Sharks point of view the pass leading up to the second Kerevi try was patently forward. And I was scratching my head after Higginbotham pulled that attempted maul try down because I was thinking that a try would have probably been scored had he not done so.

      As we know there doesn’t have to be certainty that a try would have otherwise been scored to award a penalty try, only a probability.

      If something quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck – it is probably a duck.

      While I’m being a nark I thought the Foxtel commentary was ordinary.

      But well done to the Reds – they didn’t play that well for a lot of the game, but they would have lost that one last year.

      And I agree with Nic that young Tuttle played well – he lifted the team. I always thought his older brother Jack would have been the star of the family, but it wasn’t to be,

      Agree on Izack R also – I thought that Lukhan T would have precedence over him based on U20 form last year – but I can see now why he was chosen.

      Well done that bench.

  • theduke

    Relieved to see the Reds win and some promising signs. George Smith had some strong carries to steady the ship. Higginbotham added some dynamism to the back row running. Pleased with the quality of the the replacements too. Rodda, Ready, Tuttle showed some great intensity

    However it did almost get away from them. Some silly mistakes nearly let this one go. I’m a Frisby fan usually but a few critical errors put undue pressure on the team. Must be feeling the heat from Tuttle.

    Optimistic for an upward trajectory.

  • Westo

    Super Rugby is back – fuck Yeah. Interesting game and I could make plenty of comments – but no because Super Rugby is back – fuck year.

  • muffy

    Ok game, rusty from everyone, but I thought the Reds looked the better side by the end.

    Reserves looked good and are being held back by starters reputation only, certainly not performance!

    Whinge time:
    The commentary was the absolute worse I have ever experienced! Who has decided Sean Maloney is a professional caller, he is an interview clown ( that’s not meant as an insult, as he is quite good at it) Gregan and Horan sounded like two mates watching the game around a table with a glass of 2011 Shiraz!!

    Our sport is struggling for relevance in the market place and these three wet blankets made me, ME, want to turn it off.

    Bring back One-eyed-Waratah-Phil, Kafe, Clarkey and Marto, for all their faults, at least they Brough a coherent enthusiasm to the box….

    • Michael Jones

      Noooooo, not Kafer! I can’t stand his constant pseudo intellectual dribble, the man shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a mic!

      • joy

        What’s pseudo about Kafer? I think he’s OK.

        It’s Martin they need to bury for consistently stating the obvious at the expense of anything else. Put him in a hole with Gordon Bray and place a 20 tonne rock on top.

      • muffy

        Haha you are right, but Jeese it’s better than the mono tone rambling served up on Friday

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well GAGR’s Super Rugby is back, and that empty part of my life is refilled, so lets get on with it.
    Went to the game last night, taking the tin lids. Who coincedently asked on the drive there “Daddy, do you think the Reds will actually win some games this season?” Out of the mouth of babes hey!
    So here are my points, in no particular order:
    – It was a scrappy and rusty game for both sides, with plenty of ball handling errors.
    – The Sharks looked strong and their forward pack was very powerful.
    – The Reds bench really injected some energy in the second half, Truly the ‘finishers’ concept as opposed to the way the Wallaby bench functions, this certainly provided some real fresh legs, keen minds, and will power.
    – The Reds proved that they are finally capable of digging out the tough ones. They hung in there and never gave up. Unlike the Reds of last year who would have just given up!
    – Stephen Moore looked pretty good, but could have been subbed off earlier, he looked like has was struggling from the 50 min mark.
    – Ready, rock steady big bopper looked the business.
    – Georgre Smith had a good first game, plenty there on offer.
    – Kane douglas, what was he thinking.
    – Special K looked great. Some fantastic outside runs off Quade, and at least three bone crunching tackles that I am surprised the recipients were able to walk away from. He is going to have a great season.
    – The second yellow was not a yellow.
    – The referump was shit, but as GAGR readers will know I always say take the game out of the referumps hands. And they managed to do that. BUt good he was inconsistent. The Sharks were pinged for offside 3 times in under five minutes whilst the Reds were within 10-15 m of the line. The referump not once went for his pocket.
    – Quade, well he had a shocker in the first minute, and a poor night with the boot. But the driving of the play was pretty good. Hopefully he sorts those kicking cobwebs out.
    – Good crowd, only 15,015 but very vocal and very supportive.

    Great to have the win, they didnt give up, and if they can sort out the early handling errors and the occaisional dumb decision the Reds will have a good year. The Sharks were certainly no easy beats!

  • Kokonutcreme

    Have only seen the scoring highlights and will need a marathon binge rugby session today to catch up on last nights games plus all games today (yes including those in the wee hours of the morning). Backed the Reds to win but by a more comfortable margin – guilty of buying into the Reds pre-season hype and not expecting the Sharks to play as well as they did. Will do the teams confidence the world of good to start with a win.

    • Simon

      I also backed the Reds by 7+ which was the line. To be honest I think while the Sharks played well the Reds were the better team and deserved to win by more. It was 4 tries to 2 and the first Sharks try was lucky in the first minute (Tuttle’s try arguably also lucky as it looked forward).

      Reds got 2 YCs and if the reffing was consistent Sharks would have got 2 also which would have changed things.

      • Brumby Runner

        Etienne Oosterhuizen should have been carded on a couple of occasions. How the officials missed his high shot on Kerevi (I think) was sheer incompetence.

        • Simon

          Yeah that one on Kerevi was a clear yellow, clearer than Hunt’s, and even worse it happened literally right next to the touch judge – Oosthuizen actually took him into touch with an arm around his neck.

          This is going to be a recurring theme this season. There is so little leeway in the laws now there will be a lot of miscarriages of justice where one high shot will be missed and go unpunished and another of exactly the same severity will be yellow or even red.

  • Simon

    To score tries in rugby you need to break the line, be it with a game based on offloads like the Kiwis or creating space in tight, tactical kicking or whatever. Between the 10s, the trial and this match it’s becoming clear how the Reds intend to do it – their system is based on late, flat, short passes close to the line with multiple runners to keep the defence unsure who they need to target.

    It’s not quite clicking yet but I think once it does it’s going to be very difficult to defend against. It’s a completely different system from the Graham era where they stood so deep and crabbed across field trying to find gaps that just aren’t there in modern defences. So they had to rely on Kerevi and his freakish ability to create his own gaps.

    The Paia’aua line break that led to Tuttle’s try was a sign of things to come IMO. I expect to see a a lot more of it. And as shown last night when that fails “give it to Kerevi” is still a valid plan too.

    Too early to be talking about whether they are finals contenders yet but I think they’ve shown at the very least they’re a team that needs to be treated with respect. That in itself is something for us long-suffering Reds fans to smile about.

    • Brumby Runner

      Entirely agree with your observations, Simon. I think the hit out yesterday was a lot better, certainly more promising, than a few posters here are suggesting. Quade standing shallow and looking to get flat passes away will be a huge threat to all defenses when they get the timing right. And he has options – DP, Hunt and Kerevi as well as some occasional running forwards. It was heartening to see and very promising for the Wallabies later on. I also thought Nabuli was much improved over last season as well.

      • Simon

        The other interesting thing about this is Quade seems to have retired his long cutout passing, which was a staple of his 2011 game (along with his own running game) and lasted until he left for Toulon.

        Now instead of the early long passes he’s carrying it to the line and going for the quick, short pass. Not sure whether that’s a necessity because of lasting damage from his arm/shoulder injuries or just a change of strategy.

  • Rebels3

    Not calling for mass changes and happy to give the veterans more of a go. But was it just me or the some of the most bemoaned Australian players in the past 12months look pedestrian when replaced by the youngsters off the bench? I’d be very surprised if one of Douglas, Simmons or Moore don’t get surpassed by some of the young guys by seasons end. Clear improvement in go forward, skills and very little if any change in the set piece when off.

    • mattyjinred

      I think you will find that is the plan. Not to purely replace them but to push the older guys and develop the younger guys. Thing I like is it feels as though the reds are building real depth across the park with this squad. Except in that bane of queensland rugby. A good place kicker

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice write up Nic. I was thinking they’d thrown it away for a while but good on them for hanging in there and to me that was the best part of the game. Huge change from previous years where they seemed to give up. Referee was very inconsistent and I think it’ll take them a while to come to terms with the new rules. Personally I think both yellows were fair with the new direction of the rulings but lot more high tackles were left out on the paddock and that there will be more yellows as the referees get harder. For all the preseason work I think the backline looked rusty and for a lot of it the Sharks seemed to have Cooper pegged. I’d like to see Cooper take the ball up more as his default is to run across and pass so the inside defence is only tested when he passes back inside. I thought Smith was very good but I’d like to see more changes with some youngsters coming on.
    Overall a good result especially in the ability to dig deep, which is almost better than the actual win.

    • Brisneyland Local

      I agree with what you have written. I was proud of their ability to dig deep. Previously they would not have been able to do that. I think that the older heads are helping the younger players and the team as a whole stay calm and stick to the plan and the process.
      I thought Quade whilst having a shocker with the boot, and on the receipt of a really bad pass in the first minute, played really well. The runs he set upwith Kerevi and Hunt were pretty good. But Frisby also had some difficulties. fingers crossed for steady improvement.

    • joy

      The slow mo replay shows Hunt launched into the tackle before the sharks player started to duck. Hunt would need to be blessed with ESP to adjust to this. Hardly a fair yellow.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I tend to agree with you but the directive from World Rugby is that any contact with a head, even accidental, is a yellow card is what I was basing that call of fair on. I may not agree and I think there will be some inconsistent ruling in this through the season and that is going to be frustrating.
        I’m not sure if it’s true but I read somewhere that the tackler sustains more concussion injuries than the tackled player and yet the change of interpretation doesn’t do anything about that. Weird!

        • SuckerForRed

          I just want consistant rulings within the games. To much to ask for?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          It would certainly be nice but I think world peace and free beer for all is an easier goal

        • SuckerForRed

          Good point. Do you still have BB’s number. If we start with Israel & Palestine we should be done fairly quickly……

  • jamie

    The boys looked rusty, but good teams always manage to sneak away with the points. Hopefully Quade’s goalkicking improves, as there really isn’t anyone else out there with a decent boot. Cooper-Kerevi combination is honestly frightening for any defense when they’re both on. Frisby was woeful last night. Hopefully that was just some first game nerves or something.

    And Ready > Moore. Moore just lacked impact last night. As usual.

    All in all though, how fucking good is rugby??

  • Jason

    How long until Ready takes the starting Hooker role from Moore?

    • joy

      Is this the start of yet another GAGR crusade?

      • Jason

        Should be, frankly Ready should be starting for the Wallabies. The French Barbarians game, Ready came in for head knock (from memory) the Wallabies scrum having just given away a yellow card penalty.
        Just one man, makes a previously porous scrum rock solid. While being a man down. Ready came in a did the work of two men in the scrum. Then when the HIA was over and the previous hooker came back the scrum went back to being porous.

        Oh yeah, did I mention his lineouts a brilliant too.

    • SuckerForRed

      Next week. Based on last night….

      • Jason

        Haha, we could be so lucky. I was very pleased to see Moore coming off the pitch at 50 odd minuet mark.

Queensland Reds

Nic is a freelance journalist who first tried his hand writing for Green & Gold Rugby as a schoolboy. Five years on, Nic is our resident expert on Brisbane’s local rugby scene not named RugbyReg. In April 2018 Nic releases his first book, the official biography of Waisale Serevi entitled 'Waisale Serevi: The King of Sevens'.

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