The Chiefs Just beat the Reds - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

The Chiefs Just beat the Reds

The Chiefs Just beat the Reds

Both of these teams come into this game with their fair share of injuries and resting national representatives. As Reg noted in the preview, on the face of it, before a ball was even kicked, these changes were likely to have a more significant on the Reds than it would on the Chiefs. Going into the game both teams have 23 points on the Super Rugby ladder, with the Chiefs languishing at the bottom of the New Zealand conference and the Reds only above the Sunwolves on the Australian table.

When people start talking “mathematical” chances of making finals, you can be very sure that the teams are playing more for pride than finals accolades.


The Match

The best description for the first half came from Rikki Swannell (the SkySports commentator), “loose and untidy”. And boy wasn’t she right. I would have liked to add fast, but let’s go with intermittent speed.

Despite having 54% of the possession in the first half and getting the ball across the try line twice, the Reds could only manage two penalties on the scoreboard. It was good to see them put together some long passages of play. The first disallowed try came at the end of 19 phases and another string of 15 phases later in the half shows that the young team is learning that patience is a valuable skill. However, leading the possession stat counts for nought if you can’t convert it to points.

The Chiefs, like all good Kiwi teams, took their chances and went into the break on 19 points. Luck was smiling on them with two of their three tries from this one-eyed Reds supporters point of view, when a knock-on was missed in the lead up to Atu Moli’s try and a massive forward pass went uncalled to put Etene Nanai-Seturo over. But, as the saying goes, the harder you work the luckier you get.

The second half was more the same with the teams settling back into the arm wrestle. Throughout the game, there were at least six passages of play where the Reds held the ball for more than 15 phases in attack. I am not sure how many tackles the Chiefs made in the game, but boy it must have been plenty!

Nine minutes into the second half there was an extended break as Harry Hoopert was stretchered from the field following a heavy collision. This seemed to galvanise the Reds, and after 19 phases bashing at the Chiefs line, Tanelia Toupu bulldozed his way over and Bryce Hegarty converted to bring the Reds score to 13.

The remaining 20 minutes of the game was comprised of the Reds putting together multiple phases in attack only to be denied by a timely Chiefs turn-over. A kick by the Chiefs to exit their own in goal area, and the Reds stringing together the phases again to batter away at the try line. The game really had to end as it did with the Reds being held up over the line when a converted try would have given them the win. The Chief’s player that prevented the try? One Jack Debreczeni.

In the end, the Chiefs won by six points, 19 points to 13. A much closer margin then I think any of us expected.


Match Turning Point

The half time break seemed to be a defining point for the Reds. Either that or the injury to Hoopert. In the second half, the young team seem to decide that they were going to do all that they could to snatch a win. And they damn near did. Three tries to the Chiefs in the first half nearly wasn’t enough.


I always find this difficult in games between Aussie teams and the internationals. Am I meant to consider all players or just the Aussies? The Chiefs played well as a team. Brad Webber stood out like he regularly does. And even from an Aussie’s point of view, it is nice to see Sam Cane back on the park.

Quite a few in the Reds stood up. Duncan Paia’aua took his chance and played well as Kerevi’s replacement. Seb Wileman did not much wrong in his starting debut. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Izack Rodda seemed to be in everything and smashing all that stood in their way. Tanelia Toupu showed his full range of skills with tackles, runs, off-loads and a spot of negotiation. However, my GAGR MoTM goes to Tate McDermott who had a sparkling game at scrum-half.

Wallaby Watch

If Tate is not in the squad….. [insert threat here]. As a young bloke, he has grown into his role this year and this game showed that he has all the skills you want, well I want in a scrum-half. He could learn a lot from being in and around Sanchez.


Reds – 13
Tries: Toupu
Conv: Hegarty (1/1)
Penalties: Hegarty (2/2)

Chiefs – 19
Tries: Sowakula; Moli; Nanai-Seturo
Conv: MacKenzie (2/3)
Penalties: N/A

Two weeks in a row when AFG was involved that there were no cards…

  • Gottsy

    Reds did well but were purely just outmuscled by the chiefs, no shame in that. One thing I’ve got issue with though is that last dive over the defenders on the line- how can you not know that being held up in goal after the siren has gone will finish the game? A few more phases and they could have been in

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      How do you mean ‘outmuscled’? Reds forwards were utterly dominant, especially in the second half! Backs let the team down badly.

      • Gottsy

        Outmuscled as in the chiefs defence. Through 19 phases I think we went forward about 10 meters, and quite often went backwards. We dominated the possession, but you can’t say we dominated the contact areas

        • Huw Tindall

          Think the Reds spent more time in the Cheifs 22 than on the flight over yet only got 2 tries. That’s the indictment.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think that was the backs mate. The Reds dominated the contact areas and set piece, and even made the gain line.

          The backs were useless and let the team down badly. As soon as the Chiefs realised it was only ever going to be one up runners they went for a very narrow defence and just tackled endlessly until the reds made an error. Reds never tried to use the space out wide.

        • Gottsy

          Yeah you’re right about the backs not using that space- debutant at 13, >10 gamers on the wing and fullback probably didn’t help either.
          Will have to re-watch but I thought that for how much possession we had, we rarely bent the line- definitely get what you mean about the backs though

        • idiot savant

          The chiefs were offside all night which made a huge difference and were penalised repeatedly for it. Gardiner didnt have thefts to card them which he should have done in the first half. It would have made for a better spectacle.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Not convinced about Paia’aua as a 12. He’s a good player, but he doesn’t have the bulk or power needed by modern day 12s in attack and defence. Attack wasn’t straight enough with him, as he didn’t hold the defenders like Kerevi, and wasn’t able to bust over the gain line like Kerevi.

    • Who?

      That’s an interesting analysis mate. I’m not disputing it, just interesting. Because the part of the Reds game that impressed me most last week was Kerevi. Not the try he set up for Campbell, but just a bit later in the first half, the Reds took possession just in their half, and Kerevi basically played 10 for the next 3 phases, until he decided to opt for territory and put in a very nice kick to put the Tahs in their 22. He ran that series of phases like a 10… Or Nonu.
      Perhaps Paia’aua’s biggest issue is just that he’s sitting behind a player around whom the entire team is built? The back who is more important to their team than any other, and who is arguably the form back across the entire comp?

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Perhaps, but to me he is just too small for the physical rigours of his position. Most top centres these days are closer to Vermeulen than to Hegarty in size.

        To me, it often looks like Paia’aua is either afraid to attack the line or just too weak to break though. I think he’d be an excellent 10 or 15, he’s just very very small for a 12.

        I agree everyone suffers from how much weight Kerevi has to shoulder, especially Kerevi.

        • idiot savant

          Duncan is not afraid. Im not sure if you caught the game but he hit the ball up repeatedly against the Chiefs often providing the first crash ball to set up a clearance. Hes plenty brave but as you say not very big. Hes got that Tongan bone density though. They tend to play above their weight!

          I have already admitted guilt for not seeing that Kerevi was a 12. Mea culpa. But I maintain until this season he wasn’t. Kudos to you for seeing it in him. I admit to being disappointed that Thorn did not continue the pairing of DP and Samu last season when they had played the entire season together the year before as the best centre paring in the Australian conference. I still think DP is one of the best backs in heavy traffic in Australia. He stays on his feet, has kick and pass options, has a great fend and always looks to keep the ball alive. Hes the kind of player that when he gets the ball should be followed by the full back and blind winger because hes more than likely going to create a hole for them. Alas no Reds backs have this nous. But youre right the game has moved on. The line speed (offside) of the Chiefs demanded a bigger man in the 12 jersey. And as referees and touch judges continue to allow more and more offside and less space this will continue. Phase play in rugby now is more boring than rugby league.

      • Huw Tindall

        Isn’t DP off overseas next year? Will be a shame if Kerevi goes too then no 12s for the Reds!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I agree. Kerevi for 12

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        Imagine, off a line out, Quade having the choice of Kerevi and TK running both hard at the line?

        • Bernie Chan

          Simple isn’t it…

  • muffy

    Serious question re laws. Once a players knees touch the ground, it’s a tackle and the tackler has to release, how can the player be dragged over the touch line. There has to be a clear release to my understanding.

    That aside, what a game!

    • You are right. Dragging people over the touch line seems to be one of those grey areas we see referred differently by different referees. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying I’ve seen enough decisions like that before that I’d say there’s precedent.

      I have no idea on this one exactly what the thinking is, but it clearly and absolutely only applies to dragging people over the touch line. It only seems to occur, from memory, when the tackler is moving them that way and the tackled player fights to get to ground and while within the modern laws (knees touching the ground) they successfully manage to cause the tackle to be completed, they don’t get to ground, like lie down as you might in a more clear-cut tackle.

      I guess the referee might be looking at other things – there’s a clear risk that the tackler’s arms are going to end up high for example – and so might miss knees on the ground briefly but I’ve seen it happen with clearly long completed tackles too.

      I have some sympathy when the tackle is completed basically ON the touch line, and in the act of completing the tackle (which is technically completed before the torso hits the ground after all) the tackler drives the tackled player’s torso and the ball over the touch line, then releases. But the majority of tackles we see the tackler take the player to ground, that’s certainly part of the game, and that’s not what happened here.

      • Haunui Royal

        Dragging a player over the touch is finje as long as a ruck hasnt formed and the opposition have to let the player go otherwise its a maul and tacklers have rights to drive the player wherever they like

        • Who?

          If a maul (at least one player from each team binding onto the ball carrier) hasn’t formed and a ruck hasn’t formed, but the ball carrier’s off their feet (has a knee down) and their momentum has finished (i.e. they’re held), it’s a tackle. Not a maul. The player on his knees (i.e. off his feet) can’t then legally be dragged into touch (just as they aren’t legally permitted to crawl or roll forward), they have to be released, and when they’re released, they need to release the ball.
          So, to my mind, if someone’s getting dragged into touch after they’ve been held and their momentum is stop, and then the ball carrier is dragged into touch – especially without being released by the tackle assister (because, if they haven’t gone to ground, they’re not a tackler, they’re a tackle assister) – there’s a pretty good argument to penalize them for not releasing the tackled player, or for playing a player on the ground (which is illegal, hence why it’s penalized when a player goes to ground without being tackled – you can play the ball, but not the player).

  • Geoffro

    Agree McDermott,increasingy impressed the more I see him play.

  • Andy

    Reds should have won this. That last period of possession was completely wasted by BPA stupid decision to dive on top of 3 bodies, going in high next to the line. Really dumb play.

    • idiot savant

      And he has also been penalised this season for crawling over the line just as 2 other Reds forwards were against the chiefs. Surely the coaches have to start teaching these boys the rules.

    • Mica

      Can I upvote this twice.
      So many examples of dumb play at crucial times.
      What was Mafi doing crawling especially after ASY’s effort was ruled out. *shakes head*

  • Mart

    Salakaia-Loto dropped off a few critical tackles…

  • Brumby Runner

    Sam Cane was best on ground, clearly imo.

    For the Reds, Tupou again showed all of his wares in a non-stop performance. Must be on the bench for the Wallabies to come on for Allan Ala’alatoa with 20 – 30 minutes left.

    Luhkin was very strong in the first half missed tackle notwithstanding, but I thought he faded in the second. Still a very good option for the Wallabies No 6 spot.

    I was not in the least bit impressed with Tate McDermott in this game. His decision making and poor execution placed the Reds under severe pressure on a number of occasions. Sorry, but he is not in the running for a Wallaby spot this year.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Kepu outplayed him last week. I think Kepu’s still the better scrummager. Hard decision.

      Lukhan missed that tackle in the first half because he aint a 6. He’s too slow and not dynamic enough out there. He needs to be in tight. Jones, McCaffrey, Naisarani, even Dempsey more natural 6s. Shown up utterly by the All Blacks and teams that go wide quickly.

      Lukhan a good lock cover on the bench though, as he can cover 6 if injuries require.

      • idiot savant

        Agree completely about Lukhan. He is not a loose forward. He carries well, if a bit high, and works hard when he puts his mind to it but he doesn’t offer much value as a loose forward. Hes defensively slow, doesn’t pilfer or slow ball, and doesn’t get low enough in clean outs. He prefers to latch as he doesn’t have to bend down as much. He also seems uncertain about what to do around rucks as if he fears infringing. I saw him fail to go into a ruck until it was too late to secure the ball on a few occasions. While Hegarty’s pass was poor others would have been able to bend down and get it. That turnover was important. It seems a harsh because he worked his butt off against the Chiefs but the whole Reds side looked better when he went into the second row.

  • idiot savant

    I just managed to see this game. I was amused at the bias of the kiwi commentators. They were perfectly happy for the disallowed ASY try to be played repeatedly in slow motion but when the Chiefs winger dropped the ball in scoring they ranted about slow motion replays saying “the game is not played in slow motion!”

    Im beginning to get concerned about Gardiner as a referee. It was obvious that the chiefs were pushing the boundaries of offside form the outset. While Gardiner penalised them a number of times he should have carded them. The penalties didnt stop them. And he let several head high tackles go from the chiefs.

    I dont think McDermott is ready for test football. He made a number of errors and has been looking flatter than usual the last couple of weeks. I think the workload is showing on his young body. For the life of me I dont understand why Thorn hasn’t been giving Sorovi serious minutes this season. Hes a bloody good halfback. Instead he has exhausted McDermott and had to send Sorovi back to club football to get some miles in his legs.

    For the umpteenth time this season, the Reds have persisted with a one dimensional forwards game which has again failed to win the game. I am concerned that they think they are better than they really are. They are second last in the competition. Yet after 2 line outs 5 metres out where the chiefs completely nullified their mall, the Reds opted for another one which was also nullified. Recently they kept opting for scrums 5 metres out when they weren’t totally dominating them only to lose the scrum and possession. And again they persist with the pick and go (often illegally crawling forward) and dont win the game. 5 of the 6 tries they scored against the Tahs were engineered by the backs and only one of these involved Kerevi. Three of them came off scrums. Yet they persist with forwards drives under pressure. Next season they have to develop a more all court game. Their forwards while good in patches are slow and aren’t dominant enough to win a competition.

    Lastly Jock Campbell is a clever natural footballer, brave and smart. He makes good decisions, can read the game and comes off his wing in both defence and attack when he sees a reason. Shame he is not fast enough! His future might be at fullback.


      Agreed on Mcdermott. Last year it was Ruru everyone was all excited about prematurely. These players need TIME to settle and prove themselves! Don’t know how they work extended squads but seeing as Mcdermont looks to be the future….. being a tag along in the squad could be invaluable!

Queensland Reds

Rugby fetishist. Reds & Wallabies supporter. Have been known to watch all grades & levels. Warning - gets fired up! And yes I am a GIRL..........

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