In the final years of the Ewen McKenzie era of the Reds, the Queenslanders boasted Australia’s strongest record against New Zealand Super Rugby teams.
Suncorp has continued to prove a tough place for Kiwi’s to travel, demonstrated again tonight by the in-form Hurricanes.
The Reds produced a defensive effort reminiscent of the Wallabies pool game again Wales in 2015’s Rugby World Cup but could only watch as the Hurricanes put the foot down in the final 10 minutes to pull off a key away win.
A barrage of incisive kicks kept the Queensland faithful on the edge of their seats as Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett re-captured probing efforts in the opening exchanges.
Suncorp roared as the Hurricanes finally found Julian Savea the one-on-one the Bus had been waiting for; dropping the clutch and powering over Jake McIntyre to score in the 15th minute.
A telegraphed McIntyre inside-ball was inhaled by scrumhalf TJ Perenara just four minutes later, tearing away for an 80m untouched try.
From there, momentum swung wildly, unimaginably, into the Reds favour.
The Hurricanes were denied their third try by the TMO, bringing play back to find centre Ngani Laumape guilty of a dangerous tackle deserving of a yellow card in the 24th minute.
A 5m scrum yielded the Reds first try as Scott Higginbotham floated a speculative offload over the top to find an unmarked Chris Kuridrani on the right wing.
Higginbotham produced another 2011-era Suncorp special shortly after, unlocking Eto Nabuli down the left with a filthy behind the back offload before receiving an offload in return to score between the sticks.
The Reds’ luck couldn’t be stopped as Kuridrani escaped certain yellow for an aerial challenge with Savea in the 35th minute, holding on to enter the half-time break behind just 15-17.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to emerge from their shell – counter-attacking in class Canes fashion to put away winger Vince Aso for his seventh try in five games.
With turnovers aplenty running both sides ragged, the ‘Canes brains trust again created beauty from chaos.
A Melbourne Rebels-esque foot into touch from Mark Abbott denied the Wellingtonians a great try, before a knock-on from flanker Reed Prinsep seconds later denied them twice.
Like Peter, referee Angus Gardener would deny the Hurricanes a third time as TJ Perenara dived over on a quick tap – only to discover that his foot had missed the ball entirely in the 58th minute.
Unlike Peter, there would be a fourth and fifth denial to follow, in the 59th and 60th minute.
The Reds extraordinary good fortune continued as Izaia Perese escaped a yellow card for a high tackle in the 63rd minute.
A 67th minute penalty to the Hurricanes was matched quickly as George Smith won a penalty, converted by McIntyre in the 68th.
Behind by just seven-points with 10 to play, the Hurricanes played true to their New Zealand roots by dominating the final period.
Tries to brothers Jordie (73rd min) and Beauden (79th min) pushed the final score out to 34-15, a scoreline that utterly fails to describe the electric intensity of a spectacular match.
The victory came at some cost to the Hurricanes as a litany of players went down with injury.
The Game Changer
The yellow card issued to Hurricanes centre Ngani Laumape opened up the game completely, and the half-dozen consecutive denied tries in the second half kept Queensland pulling long after they should have folded.
As is the usual for New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams, the final 10 minutes are the game’s most important – and the Hurricane’s ability to fight through adversity from 70-minutes onwards changed the complexion of the match.
The G&GR MOTM
The engine of Ardie Savea deserves mention, but Jordie Barrett’s form was irrepressible. He is Green & Gold Rugby’s Man of the Match.
Samu Kerevi produced another memorable performance, capped off by taking on the captaincy after the substitution of Stephen Moore in the 48th minute.
Higginbotham played key roles in both tries scored by the Queensland Reds, and with the relative dearth of back-row options available for Michael Cheika’s Wallabies in June, Higginbotham deserves a chance.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Chris Kuridrani (28′), Scott Higginbotham (34′)
Conversions: Jake McIntyre (1/2)
Penalties: Jake McIntyre (1/2)
Tries: Julian Savea, TJ Perenara, Vince Aso, Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett
Conversions: Jordie Barrett (3/5)
Penalties: Jordie Barrett (1/1)
Cards & citings
Ngani Laumape (24′)
Watchability: 10/10. If you can watch one Super Rugby match this weekend, watch this one – the nail clippers might get a workout, but if you’re a fan of action movies, try #REDvHUR on for size