Lions Nearly Choke on Koala - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Lions Nearly Choke on Koala

Lions Nearly Choke on Koala

The Lions have their first home game of the season following up from a mauling by the Jaguares away last week, while the Reds lost to a Brumbies outfit in a promising, if not inconsistent and at times frustrating performance in Canberra. So with both teams keen to open their account for 2020, it is on with the show.


Photo Credit Brendan Hertel / QRU

Photo Credit Brendan Hertel / QRU


The game kicked off in conditions  (and with a crowd) not dissimilar to those endured by the Waratahs a few hours earlier. A sodden Emirate Airlines Park greeted both teams as rain teemed down.

Early phases saw the Reds get downfield courtesy of a pinched lineout and a couple of penalties, the second of which Bryce Hegarty knocked over for an early 3-0 lead. The Lions quickly hit back off a penalty and a long advantage, with a clever kick in behind from Elton Jantjies putting Tyrone Green over in the corner. Conversion missed and it was 5-3 after 8 minutes of play.

Almost immediately though the Reds hit back, a charged down kick, a pinballing ball, a neat back and forth between Jock Campbell and Tate McDermott put Campbell in under the posts. Hegarty converts and I can’t keep up with the scoring. 10-5 Reds after 10.

Another penalty advantage due to the Reds collapsing a maul led to sustained phases near the line and after several goes at trying to pick and drive, that man Green again dove over the line, this time in the left corner. Jantjies missed the conversion again and it was locked up at 10 all after 17 minutes.

The teams both finally let me catch up with a period of back and forth, with the Reds being the most likely to score and holding most of the possession. The Reds by this time had pinched two Lions lineouts and the scrums were looking pretty good from a Queensland perspective as well.

In the 25th minute a dominant Reds scrum earned their second penalty of the game, which Hegarty knocked over from in front, a good strategy to keep the scoreboard ticking over. 13-10 QLD. The slippery conditions were not very conducive to an expansive game, although the Reds did occasionally try, but without much success. It became clear that this would be a case of who cracked first, and if the ferocious heat of Canberra last week might hurt Queensland in the back end.

A third scrum penalty on their own line relieved some pressure for the Reds around the 30 minute mark, Just before the break the Reds held out on the line very strongly though multiple phases and penalties, eventually losing Taniela Tupou to the naughty chair as the Reds perennial lack of discipline threatened to be their undoing. Almost on the hooter Marnus Schoeman dived over on a maul. Jantjies finally converts one and at halftime it is 17-13 Lions.

The second half began with the Lions desperate to capitalise on another eight minutes with a man advantage, They set up shop down the Reds end then Josh Nasser also saw yellow after coming on to scrum in Tupou’s absence for an early tackle from a lineout. Reds are down to 13 for four minutes and disaster seemed imminent.

Some great defence mixed with some panicked attack saw the Reds hold out for the entire period and it was soon back to 15 each. Worryingly for the Lions it was ten handling errors to one by the Reds after 54 minutes.

Yet another Reds scrum penalty in the 58th minute, and then another saw no Lion sin binned. The Reds took a third scrum off the penalty and Harry Wilson barged over from the back only to be denied by the TMO, but yet another penalty blew. Still no yellow for the Lions. Constant pressure led to many phases and in the end Tate McDermott dove under the posts from close range and with 19 minutes to go it is 20-17 Reds after another Hegarty conversion.

As had been the pattern all game, after one team scored the other almost immediately hit back, and so it was this time, after 20 plus phases, much of it in the Reds 22, eventually space was wide right and Courtnall Skosan dotted down, conversion successful and it was back to a four point Lions lead, 24-20 with just over 11 minutes left.

Another penalty by Jantjies while on attack made it a seven point margin and the Reds, with the benefit of a few fresh legs neatly got over in the 77th minute with a rampaging Tupou linking well only for the ball to spilled as it was thrown around. The Lions managed to eat the clock over the last few minutes and escaped with a 27-20 win.



The game was up for grabs pretty much all game. I would have bet for all money that Tupou’s yellow, followed closely by Nasser’s would be that moment but these Reds are made of sterner stuff. To their credit the second half discipline generally improved and while there aren’t many points in a brave defeat, this was another one of those.

The failure of Jaco Peyper to even warn let alone sin bin a Lions prop after at least six scrum penalties will be a decision that will baffle me for a while yet.

While I am at it, the denial of Harry Wilson’s near try was odd, it certainly looked like it was touching the line and then mysteriously there were no more angles. As it stood, he may have slightly lost control on the way down but it is another of those slightly suspicious SA video calls.

The most penalised player in Qld rugby today?

The most penalised player in Qld rugby today?



Harry Wilson was immense in his second start. Leading the team in runs, line breaks, 5 tackle busts, and only eclipsed by Jock Campbell for run metres. He was denied a try by the TMO and was generally everywhere. Tate McDermott was a close second with a typical liverwire performance.


Post World Cup is always the most exciting time to watch Super Rugby as we are literally watching the future squad mature in front of us. Jock Campbell, despite probably not even being the Reds starting wing a month ago was immense, looking dangerous in attack and countering with flair.

Taniela Tupou is a coaches nightmare, clearly an immense scrummager but just gives away too many penalties. James O’Connor was quiet and Henry Speight was almost invisible.


Reds –  20
Tries: Campbell, McDermott
Conv: Hegarty 2
Penalties: Hegarty 2

Lions- 27
Tries: Green 2, Marnus Schoeman, Skosan
Conv: Jantjies 2
Penalties: Jantjies


Taniela Tupou got his stint in the chair after multiple team infringements across the half in defence. (39th minute) Josh Nasser also saw cheese for an early tackle in the 44th minute.

  • Jason

    Red’s got Jaco’ed…

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    I’m not a fan of a player getting binned for repeated penalties in a scrum. It’s one thing if they are intentionally committing penalties, but if you’re simply being overpowered then there’s nothing one can do. It isn’t the same as intentionally bringing down a maul, or reaching into a ruck after it has formed. The scrum penalty should be enough.

    I heard someone say that Smith played THP when Thor was in the bin. Worth noting that I think Peyper let the Reds get away with one there if true. Pretty sure you have to play on the side of the scrum hat you are listed as playing. Reds shouldn’t have been able to compete in them.

    How did Petaia play?

    • Keith Butler

      Totally agree about the scrum penalty. Same thing happened in the Rebels game. Another ref would have had Smith in the bin for repeated infringement. Not intentional just got beasted by a better prop.

    • Jason

      ‘m not a fan of a player getting binned for repeated penalties in a
      scrum. It’s one thing if they are intentionally committing penalties,
      but if you’re simply being overpowered then there’s nothing one can do.
      It isn’t the same as intentionally bringing down a maul, or reaching
      into a ruck after it has formed. The scrum penalty should be enough.

      But the scrum penalty isn’t for being overpowered it’s for scrummaging incorrectly, they could say bound correctly and coincide ground, instead they scrummage illegally and deny them the opportunity.

      I do think the Lions ought to have been given a yellow card for repeated scrum infringements, and before that probably a penalty try yellow card before Wilson’s near try.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        The team generally scrummages incorrectly because they’re getting overpowered though.

        Reds shouldn’t have been allowed to engage in the scrum when Tupou was binned as far as I can tell. Reds fan of mine who watched the game said that he thought that Peyper made some wrong scrum calls in favour of the Reds too. So it is swings and roundabouts.

        • Jason

          I didn’t feel like the Reds got the rub of the green with Jaco. But they were fully allowed to move JP to the other side of the scum, he’s previously played both sides of the scum and was happy to certify that he’s capable on that side. The only reason it was supposed to uncontested was because the Reds had two tight-heads (I think, it was late) in the bin.

          But again instead of being overpowered like that they could maintain there shape and concede ground — plus even if they are simply being overpowered they are still scrummaging illegally; typically the scrum YC comes when a team is on the back foot deep in there 22 under pressure — so in that context it’s cynical as conceding ground would result in a try.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          He didn’t say the Reds did either, but that there were calls he disagreed with both ways.

          It’s irrelevant whether he can play both sides, as I understand it. What matters is what side your coach has stated you’ll play before the match. So that was a big ruling in favour of the Reds.

          Rebels lost about 4 scrums in a row against the Brumbies. I think it should have been more. I certainly don’t think they deserved a YC though.

          Yes, and the Reds were rewarded for their scrum dominance through penalties. The only time I generally support YCs due to scrum penalties is when the referee awards a penalty try, and only because that requires a YC.

          Rather than blaming the referee. It might be better to ask why the Reds have such a habit of losing close games.

        • RugbyReg

          mate, you are way off about this ruling about playing both sides. You need to backtrack quickly because it’s completely wrong.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Not rule 3.10? In which case it comes down to whether Smith was nominated as a reserve LHP/THP prior to the match?

          Presumably he was if he was allowed to replace at 3 though.

        • Waz_dog

          Makes it pretty clear that players can be nominated for position or positions = position(s)

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yep, hence: ‘Presumably he was if he was allowed to replace at 3 though’

        • Waz_dog

          Huh? You threw that in on your edited comment – not what you originally said.

        • RugbyReg

          No. You’re reading that incorrectly. Like at every grade of rugby with contested scrums, you have to show you have three 6 players in the squad who can cover front row. It doesn’t matter where they play in the front row, just that you have sufficient cover.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Even though it says they can only play in the nominated position(s)? Anyway, it’s much of a muchness. Whether that’s the case or Smith was nominated as a LHP/THP replacement it is still evidently okay.

        • Mica

          I think point 16 covers it. The ref asks the team whether they are able to continue with contested scrums. Also they need to have 6 front rowers with 2 in each position. There is no reason that a front rower can’t play all three front row positions and in some players careers they may have played all three positions at some point in time. They way I read it is that if the 3 players on the field can together play all 3 front row positions (at that teams discretion) then you can have contested scrums. If the team says “yeah, nah we’ve lost our 2 required THs and neither of the remaining LHs or hookers can safely play TH then the referee will need to enforce uncontested scrums.

        • Who?

          Reg, maybe there’s a bit each way in it? Because I have vague recollections of a team getting away with going uncontested a few years ago when a they had two props unavailable who were nominated to the one side of the scrum, but one of the two remaining props, one could play both sides.
          I don’t know if things have changed since then, but perhaps it’s a bit of a grey area? I mean, if refs are being sensible and allowing blokes to scrum when they say they’re up to the task, that’s only a good thing in my mind. But maybe it’s not cut and dried?

        • Mica

          Last 1 is easy. Poor discipline, poor decision making and poor execution.
          How you can only make 15 – 20m for your touch finders in J’berg as a professional rugby player is beyond me.

        • Mica

          Yep 2 THs in the bin in Tupou and Nasser.
          Most teams will drop a scrum from 5 out if they think they are going to concede a pushover try.
          Also within 5m a scrum can be overpowered and stay straight, but they will concede the try and this is why they will just drop it. Nothing worse for the tight 5 then to be pushed backwards over your own try line.

    • James Walker

      To not get penalized the scrum has to move backwards. Collapsing and taking a penalty is deliberate. A team choice but deliberate all the same.

      • Brumby Runner

        Over simplification I think JW. In an unstable situation like a scrum going backwards, there are all sorts of forces at play, and many times, perhaps most, a front rower collapsing is the unavoidable outcome of those forces.

        I’m with DBTB on this one. Binning a player whose scrum is the weaker will only exacerbate the problem. And, having a weaker scrum is not a penalty offense per se. I think WR and therefore the refs are wrong on this front.

        • Actually, the current guidance is that to win a penalty rather than a reset, both sides of the scrum must be going back. If it’s only one side, it’s more likely a technical issue and a reset. Of course that doesn’t mean Jaco takes any notice of that for a foreign side against a SA one at home…

          And the rationale for the card (right or wrong) is that there are repeated penalties, which is one of the reasons the referee can award a YC. In discussions at the end of last year on this site there were people calling for clearer guidelines, like in basketball with technical fouls: five penalties = 1 YC. I’ve certainly seen scrums were you get 3 penalties, a warning, a reset, a penalty with a second warning, then a penalty and a YC which would fit that pattern. I guess there’s both a hope that a fresh prop will not collapse (not necessarily reasonable because a 7-man scrum will be weaker even with a fresh prop and it’s not necessarily the prop’s fault although they’re the one you see exposing the weaker scrum) but they’re not directly being carded for collapsing, they’re being carded for repeated offences.

          I agree there’s a lot wrong with that choice, but within the framework of rugby’s laws it does make sense.

          TBH I think the automatic YC with a PT is worse. When the decision runs “Penalty offence + YC, try would probably have been scored, PT” I don’t have an issue. When it’s “PT, I can identify the culprit, I have to award a YC” I take issue. People get YCs for too many random things that are not clearly deliberate and/or cynical that way.

    • RugbyReg

      that is most definitely not a rule by any stretch of the imagination. Of course a player can play any side of the scrum. Just like our wingers packed in at the backrow and Hegarty went in at first receiver on occasions.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I’m only repeating what I’ve heard, but it’s not really the same thing as the reserve front row rule is for safety reasons. So from a purely logical reason, it would make sense if it was true.

    • Mica

      Team sheet has nothing to do with it.
      For the front row as long as they can pack down safely in the position, you can switch them around how you see fit.
      Smit played both hooker and prop for the SA teams and he is not unique in this.

    • Props can be one sided or able to play both sides. Nearly every prop SAYS they can say both sides (David Flatman, who comments on UK TV and did play both sides at international level has funny things, but clearly well informed, to say about this) but most are really 90%+ one sided.

      Smith might well be able to play on both sides, I don’t remember noticing it, and if he did swap sides, it suggests he’s pretty decent on the other shoulder too.

  • Tim

    I didn’t see the game but its disappointing that two players went to the bin. I really hope the reds can steal a win next week. I’m a tahs supporter and watching them is just really depressing! I want Australian teams to be decent again!

    • Mica

      Watch the Brumbies – hopefully they don’t crash back to earth against the NZ teams.
      Tahs have been pretty hard to watch, but at least they have played better than average teams in their losses

  • Waz_dog

    Ben that TMO decision needs to be reviewed – how they cut the full replay of the third camera is beyond belief. I hope the Reds submit an official please explain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a quick abrupt decision like that before either.

    Three infringements within the 22 (of the same nature) needs to be a team yellow and a near penalty try. I was fuming and concur with your assessment of Jaco’s adjudication of the situation. The forwards emptied the tank to see that effort be converted to points and I think that’s the game right there IMO.

    Hopefully Liam learns how to read refs better – if Jaco isn’t issuing warnings after the three scrums prior to this phase, he need’s to point at the sticks and let the boys keep the gas in the tank (maybe Brad could have sent a runner out there to pass that message on?). Lions’ coach read the situation to a tee and got two fresh props on the park – the rest is history…

  • Michael Hassall

    The Reds kicked terribly out of hand all game and that was a big difference in being able to take more control of the game. There must have been 5 or 6 clearances from the 22 that didn’t make any ground including O’Connor, Speight, Heggarty. Then Tate McDermmott kicking the ball out on the full instead of counter attacking from a Lions error. It was frustrating to watch.

    But there was great goal line defence by the forwards and the whole team (a lot of it) and Hamish Stewart seemed to make a lot of tackles and good ones.

    The Lions weren’t very good either, hopefully the reds will be better next week.

    • Mica

      Yes, yes and yes. :)

  • Reds Revival

    Just watched the replay. What was encouraging was the forward play. Scrums, lineouts and ruck retention was very good. It would appear that he Reds are going to be one of the set piece heavyweights this year. Unfortunately, it is not converting into points.
    While it was worth the trial to put JOC into flyhalf, I can’t say that it was a failure, but I don’t think that Lucas would have been a lesser option. Hamish Stewart had a cracking game, and Hunter Paisami had immediate impact off the bench. Definitely a player of the future.
    Hags smashed the Lions, and then the Lions beat the Reds. Naturally, there is no reason for the Reds to come anywhere near the Hags, but I’m calling it now. The Reds will beat the Jaguares, and then lose at home to the Sunwolves – Just to keep the inconsistency we have come to expect from them.
    Having said that, if the Reds can finally start to get their forward offload game to click, they will become dangerous, and catch a few of the better teams off guard.

    • Singapore Sling

      I hope they leave Stewart at 12 for a few more games. He reminds me of Nathan Gray in his early Wests days.

      • Reds Revival

        Unfortunately SS, I think that JOC is a lock in for 12, and they will probably revert to Lucas at 10. I think that Stewart will get limited minutes unless JOC gets injured, but it’s good to have that sort of depth.

        • Mica

          In this instance, I think Stewart would have been a better option at 15 with his long kicking game. Could’ve started Hegs at 10, JoC at 12 and Petaia at 13 to give some balance of quick feet and tackle shedding. Lucas can be brought in at 10 or 15 depending on how the game plays out. Also really should have brought Lucas on earlier. He may have sparked something in the closing stages. Definitely worth a go as there wasn’t much doing in from 10 to 15 in attack and it wouldn’t have been worse than what was already being dished up.

  • Ev

    Thought McDermott’s passing was v poor, put pressure on 1st receiver and kickers many times with slow, looping and inaccurate ball.

  • Nutta

    If you play a Saffa team in Saffa land you simply have to get everything 100% clear, obvious & right. There can be absolutely 0 margin for an event of act to be questioned. I’ll just about bet you a finger that if an act positively impacting the non-Saffa team can be questioned, then it will be, and the non Saffa team will rue that reflection. It’s one of the few consistent things in rugby.

    • Geoffro

      Eh.Still think it’s a fundamental that the refs should be neutrals.Cant afford a few extra plane tickets ?

      • Nutta

        I’m sure there is a consultants fee in there somewhere – cost benefit built on perceived value of neutrality etc – I’ll brush off my ABN and make a pitch…

  • idiot savant

    Interesting game. Thorn would’ve enjoyed it as it was played almost entirely in the forwards. A grinding game in wet greasy conditions. Consequently it was hard what to make of the JOC experiment at 10. He was probably the right choice given the slow ball and heavy traffic. He still goes for hero plays with long passes that are not accurate and would only isolate players if they could pick them up. Poor Henry got a couple of shockers from him. You would think that JOCs experience should have told him to retain possession.

    For the second week in a row the Reds utterly dominated the scrum and lost the game. And lets face it their scrum has been good for years but they have come second or third last in the competition nonetheless. On that evidence the scrum is not that important to winning rugby games. As the Brums proved last week the ruck is the most important phase of play. That combined with the ability to immediately find space form turnover ball are the most important elements of modern rugby.

    I still don’t understand why Stewart is not doing more out of hand kicking. Lucas is a pop gun, OConnor shanks it and Hegarty kicked poorly at Elis Park. Yet they still dont use Stewart. Im yet to be convinced by McKay as a backs coach. The Reds forwards have been well coached. Cant say the same about the backs.

    • Mica

      The kicking was woeful. Given the context of the game, it had a huge impact. I’d rather them punt it down the line than make 15-20m and kicking it out. At least if you put it down the line you get field position and with good placement get the odd favourable bounce.

  • John Tynan

    One of those games that if you’re good enough, you’ll win it. We weren’t good enough, and showed panic when close to the line or on a break, crappy offloads and the worst transfer at the back of a maul ever!!! when 10m or 15 out (from memory).
    JO’C may not be the answer, but showed the benefit of straightening the line first, then passing, rather than Lucas telegraphing play.
    Speight should be spewing with the service he got, and could have been the difference in the game.

Queensland Reds

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

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