Lions v Reds - Was it worth it? - Green and Gold Rugby
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Lions v Reds – Was it worth it?

Lions v Reds – Was it worth it?

1:00 am. That in between time when you are not sure if you should go to bed or not….. Stumble outta bed, stumble in the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition……. Is this going to be worth it?

With the Lions on a seven match winning streak at home this was always going to be a tough ask for the Reds.


The Match

First Half

The first 10 minutes was back and forward between the two teams with both making errors to relieve any pressure the opposition might have been able to muster.

The best opportunity for the Reds came after the sixth minute when the Lions were penalised for not rolling away. Finding it difficult to get through the Lions defence in the resulting plays, Frisby dropped the ball onto his foot with a view to pick up Nabuli but the ball beat everybody into touch.

From the lineout and a subsequent error by George Smith the Lions ended up with an attacking lineout 10 meters out from their line. Van Rensburg made a break passing the ball onto a charging Kriel who was held up over the line by some good work by Perese.

Both sides then traded errors for the next few minutes until Jantjies got a nice ball to van Rensburg who made a break down field off loading to Skosan for a try under the posts. Jantjies converted. 7 – 0 in the 18th minute.

The Reds standard play of “give it to Kerevi” was shut down over and over again with the Lions being very attentive to Kerevi in defense. This ploy really should have been shelved early, along with the chip kicks, but I guess the number of handling errors made probably would have negated any effort in this regard. Having said that the Lions were also trying their best to sabotage their scoring opportunities finding a variety of ways to let the Reds back into the competition. The Reds just didn’t take them up on said opportunities.

A sniper made his presence known in the 30th minute when Slipper collapsed at the front of a lineout with what appears to be a achillies injury, bringing Marcus Vanzati into the game earlier. This did not help a struggling set piece, and Moore followed him into action just before the half time mark.

After a successful penalty kick it didn’t take long for the Lions to be back applying pressure to the Reds line. After a knock on by the Lions, a clearing kick from Moore went into touch about 15 meters out. The ref, however, deemed that there was no advantage and returned to a scrum five metres out. Personally I think that a Lions lineout 15 metres out would have been more advantageous to the Reds than a scrum five metres out no matter that the Reds were feeding the scrum. (Yes. We were doing that badly.)

The resulting penalty to the Lions from the scrum ultimately lead to a maul from a line out and a try to Jaco Kriel. Jantjies missed the conversion but it still meant that the Lions went to the oranges 15 – 0 up.


Second Half

Both teams started the second half as they meant to continue. The Reds with a bunch of mistakes and the Lions going to set piece at every opportunity.

In the 45th minute Nabuli was binned for cynical play (not releasing) after a scrambling tackle on Mapoe. The resulting tap from de Klerk eventually lead to van Rensburg going over for a try, through a high tackle from Cooper. This resulted in Cooper being shown a red card and the Reds being down to 13 men. Perese was probably lucky that his tackle slipped out of the frame otherwise it could have been 15 on 12. This was shaping up to be a long half of rugby for any Reds supporters who might have braved the early morning.

Two minutes later there was spectacular collision between Hunt and Marpoe as the Lions made another raid on the Reds line and some tenacious defence by Tuttle meant that the ball was knocked on in goal by Tambwe.

Another scrum and another penalty against the Reds. And, following another scrum, the Lions were in again through their hooker Malcolm Marx. 25 – nil with Jantjies missing another conversion as it bounced of the posts.

The next 10 mins it was service as usual with mistakes by each side handing possession back to their opposition and neither team being able to capitalise.

In the 61st minute the Reds handed possession back to the Lions yet again through a forward pass. From the resulting scrum the Lions put Skosan over for his second. Even allowing for only 14 men on the field, that was way too easy. Jantjies managed to hit the post again but it bounced the right way and was through.


Retaining possession from the kick off, the Reds appeared to get sick of the holding the ball so Higgers kicked it back to the Lions after three minutes and the Lions returned the favour with interest and Skosan was in for his third of the night. Coetzee took over the kicking duties and the Lions were up 39 – 0.

After a double knock on off the kick off, the Reds managed to get the ball out of a scrum. The ball made its way to McIntyre who put Hunt into half a hole in the Lions’ defensive line, who off loaded to Paia’aua for the Reds to get their first points on the board in the 68th minute.

So as not to be seen as bias, the snipper made his presence felt again by taking out one of the Lions players in the 71st minute. You may think I jest, but what other explanation can there be when two players go down when there is absolutely no one else around them and nothing going on.

While this was happening Hunt was penalised for not releasing the player in a tackle. From the resulting line out the Lions spun the ball wide through several phases and put Skosan over for his fourth of the night.

The Reds were to have the last say however. After a series of penalties by the Lions Tupou backed over the try line and forced the ball down in the 78th minute with McIntyre converting bringing the final score to 44 – 14 in favour of the Lions.


The Reds were their own worst enemies in a lot of cases. The decision making just continued to return the ball to the Lions over and over again and put the defence under pressure, but how do you teach patience? This needs to be sorted other wise it is going to be a long season. Next week against the Jaguares is going to be another difficult game. The young guns are going to have step up with Slipper and Cooper expected to be missing.

The Game Changer

Not sure there was one. Reds were always going to struggle. The loss of Slipper early probably caused some disruption that meant their fight back was delayed. We will never know if they could have got closer had the experience of Slipper been around for a while longer.


It is hard to go past Skosan with his four tries. De Klerk and Kriel also played well for the Lions.

From a Reds perspective Hunt worked hard all night in defence and attack and was probably the stand out despite giving away some penalties.  He will also be important going forward as we can expect Cooper to have some time off going forward following his red card. Smith also doing a lot of grunt work and pestering at the breakdown.

Wallaby watch

Not many of the Reds covered themselves in glory. As mentioned previously Hunt was the standout. Smith still showing his class but has he made himself available for international duties again? Kerevi was kept quiet most of the night by a lot of targeted attention.

The Details

Crowd: 17,000 odd

Score & Scorers

Lions 44
Tries: Skosan (4); Kriel; van Rensburg; Marx
Conversions: Jantjies (2/5); Coetzee (1/2)
Penalties: Jantjies (1/1)
Reds 14
Tries: Paia’aua; Tupou
Conversions: McIntyre (2/2)
Penalties: nil 

Cards & citings

Nabuli (Yellow); Cooper (Red)

  • Fatflanker

    Yeah, good write-up Sucker. What a debacle. The set piece was particularly disappointing. The scrum was creaking badly even before Slipper left the field. Cooper was worse than invisible. I’m not at all convinced Nick Stiles is head coach material.

    • HK Red

      Not sure that he’s definitely not head-coach material, but I think the head role has spread him too thin and our set-piece is suffering because of that.

  • idiot savant

    I wouldn’t be too hard on the newly minted Reds. The Lions were on song, at altitude, at home, and a pleasure to watch. After years of watching kiwi sides mess up this great game with professional spoiling, flat lines, and negative focused football (if it wasn’t for the Pacific Islanders and the counter attack they brought to the kiwi game in the 1980s they would still be playing 10 man football) it was a joy to watch rugby as it should be played.

    The forwards won the set piece with power, precision and technique and gave it to the backs early and the backs stood gloriously deep and ran onto the football absolutely flat out at all angles. They ran sideways, cut back, ran straight, backed themselves, offloaded, and richly deserved their victory. Officials should privilege this kind of rugby going forward. This is the kind of rugby that makes this game great and spectators want to watch. Just don’t lose confidence in yourselves Lions!

    The Reds did well to hold to hold them out for 18 minutes or so and I think before this season is over that final margin against the Lions wont be too shabby. For the Reds, I wouldnt be too disappointed. There was lots to like against quality opposition, particularly from the young brigade. Duncan P, Perese, Ready, Tui, Tuttle all stood up against quality opposition. Im not sure the reds didnt look better in attack after the red card….

    • Tommy Brady

      There is indeed a lot to like about the freedom with which the Lions play their rugby at Ellis Park which is now one of the harder venues in this competition to get a victory. One hopes the Lions efforts transform rugby at Springbok level too. It never happened in 2016. 2017 must be different.

      Thanks for the history lesson on NZ rugby. Those same history books would tell a tale of Australian rugby once being amongst the leaders in skilled, intelligent players and clever innovative coaches. The different paths each country has taken there for all to see on Saturday night. The once great Queensland Reds now forced to field a team of assembled veterans who mailed it in and got embarrassed. A Reds team who looked devoid of skills, commitment and game plan. Kind of reminded me of a team that lost 9 of their 16 test matches in 2016 and suffered the most one-sided Bledislie Cup defeat in 40 years. 2017 feels no different.

      A final word here though has to belong to Quade Cooper – the gift that keeps on giving. Some believe he’s a good player. Some have thought that all along. Others consider him the best in his position in Australia. Some praise the changes he’s made to his game. They even talk about
      maturity! Always fascinating when players you suspect are not very good do things that remove all doubt. In the case of this bloke though, he’s done it all his career.

  • Brisneyland Local

    SFR, as always a wonderful write up.
    Yes my prediction was way off the mark, but alas one should never drink and submit your tips for the round! tip for young players!
    – The loss of Slipper fo rthe Reds and the Wallabies is a big loss.
    – The Red card was the softest Red card I have ever seen. Deserved a yellow, but a red. NFW!
    Off to Argy Land!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Disagree with the red mate. While I do agree it was not that bad the ruling from World Rugby is very clear and that absolutely meets the new thresh hold for red. I was more annoyed at Nabuli’s yellow as I thought that was harsh, although I think it was a “team” yellow and that’s always bad luck.
      I feel for Slipper and seeing the scrum collapse when he left says so much about how good he is playing these days. As you say a real loss

      Mate I watched the Canes vs Highlanders this afternoon and I gotta say the individual skill level of the Kiwis is way above what I saw in that game or live with the Tahs vs Brumbies. You’ve got your work cut out

      • idiot savant

        Youre wrong about Cooper and right about kiwis. No wait. That cant be right. Coopers a kiwi.

        Anyway, Cooper’s high shots have serious form. Its a pattern. He is trying to give people long term concussion problems. Must be the kiwi upbringing. Ive got a chip on my shoulder so Im gonna give you one too!

        And you’re right about the skill level of kiwis. You are more highly evolved than Australians. You’re a superior race. I cant understand why so many of you are living here permanently on special category visas when everything is so much better at home.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahahaha Mate you need to get that chip removed. There are faults on both sides and I’m leaving it there

      • HK Red

        Agreed on the red. It was a tad high from Quade, but a hint of falling into it from the Lions player. That said, World Rugby ruling is pretty clear on this and players should adjust accordingly.

        Reds didn’t offer enough variety and the forwards need to watch K.Hunt’s highlight reel on a continuous loop and feel disgusted with themselves.

        Thought Perese did incredibly well to hold up that first crossing of the line by the Lions. Incredible strength and tenacity for such a young bloke.

        Well done to the Lions, they were “on-song” and will be a handful for any team. The Reds didn’t have a great night, but we’re building and apart from last night, other losses this season have been close. The Brumbies and the Tahs had difficulty against the Force and the the loss to the Crusaders was cruel, just poor game management in the dying minutes.

        There is hope, but what the hell has happened to our set-piece?

        • SuckerForRed

          The lack of variety is a good point.

          Plan A – give it to Kerevi.
          Plan B – kick it to Kerevi.

          Surprisingly the Lions had their defense targeted to Kerevi. Showed at the end of the game when the Reds started to go away from Kerevi & found the holes. At they learnt.

    • SuckerForRed

      Nah. Under the “new” guidelines it was a red. All day Every day. Thing that shits me about it is that QC ahould know better. He couldn’t even claim the Lions player was falling into it

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yeah having re-watched it I guess so. Just pissed at the Quade and pissed at the inconsistency. In the game against eh Sharks there were worse shots on the head in that that were not even penalised.

        • SuckerForRed

          Yeah. Going high in tackles has been a long term problem in QC’s game that now needs to be urgently sorted. Otherwise he will play little rugby.

    • Brumby Runner

      Slipper will definitely be a loss for the Reds but not so much for the Wallabies. He had already lost his starting spot to Scott Sio, and then there’s Robertson at the Tahs and a resurgent Ben Alexander now playing again on the LH side. Plenty of cover so long as all these regain and remain fit.

  • Bernie Chan

    If SANZAR applies the rules with any consistency, then QCs red card was not surprising. Nabuli’s yellow card was incredibly soft…a ref could find such a ‘yellow’ card in almost every defensive ruck. Hunt, Paia-Aua, Kerevi and Smith the Reds ‘standouts’…Frisby and Moore disappointing, as was the apparent plan to let Paia-Aua/Kerevi/Hunt do all the ‘grunt’ work while the forwards waited… that awful Higgers grubber that was returned for a Lions try was a clear example…the starting forwards were found wanting. Back up forwards did OK but the game was ‘gone’…Can Stile justify starting Frisby, Moore or Douglas next round…?

    • John Tynan

      I think Nabuli’s was a team yellow, they got warned for red zone infringements late in the first half.

  • Old_Laurentian

    Enjoyable game and the Lions were a delight. Some green shoots from the youngsters in the Reds, and they didn’t give up. Tuttle is so much better than Frisby. Karmichael Hunt played his heart out and put a lot of Reds forwards to shame in terms of go-forward.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice write up SFR. It must have been hard to do as that was an incredibly poor performance. WTF is it with Frisby waiting and waiting and waiting until the defence is perfectly set up before he passes the ball. The comparison between him and both Smith for the Highlanders and Perinara for the Hurricanes is immense.
    Paia-Aua was massive and I thought the backline actually went better when Quade was off. He crabs far too much and shuts down his outside back’s space for me. Paia-Aua and Kerevi are a very good combination but they do need space and faster service than is capable from the Frisby/Quade combo.
    Reds need to sort out their front row. Despite a good try I think the Tongan Thor has been Brought on too early and it shows. Unfortunately the Reds never won the forward battle and that meant the game was always going to be hard.

    • idiot savant

      So KRL you really are a troll after all. I guess can really only hold back the put downs of Australians and other nations for so long. ‘Tongan Pussy’? Are all kiwis both racist and sexist?

      That was not an ‘incredibly poor performance’. It was a very good side (last years finalists) playing with total confidence and winning well against a new combination still finding their feet (last years cellar dwellers).

      While I completely agree Frisby is not in Smith’s or Perenara’s class (nor does he have their experience or play behind their packs), the reason why the Reds have stayed in all the games they have played till half time so far, is because of his kicking. He has one of the best box kicks going around both in height and distance and if he had kiwi chasers it would be a weapon. Frisby was the main reason the Crusaders got so few opportunities in the first half last week.

      • SuckerForRed

        IS (couldn’t work out if I should call you Idiot or Savant), you & I need to disagree about Frisby’s box kick. The main problem being it is over used, the second problem being he telegraphs it. Yes, if there were some chaser occasionly the kicks might turn out better but I am yet to work out if that is the kickers fault or the chasers fault…….

        • idiot savant

          You can call me idiot. Many people do.

          Im not holding a torch for Frisby by any means. I suspect he may be a late developer and because of injury and reduced options has found himself thrust onto the stage as playmaker a little early rather than serve a longer apprenticeship. Will he learn to make better judgements and mature into a class player? Who knows.

          I think the box kick is difficult to master. His is way better than Phipps and Genia for example. He does telegraph but that extended back leg is often hidden from the opposition by the pack. It also serves as a signal to his own wingers that the kick is on and improves the quality of the chase. I agree he overuses it but one thing that has improved out of sight this season is the Reds exit strategy and Frisby’s kicking has been a big part of that.

        • SuckerForRed

          Have to agree with you about the exit strategy. But I do wonder if you would get the same ability with Tuttle who also comes with much more urgency at the breakdown. Might be worth a try.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate yeah that comment was a bit harsh and I’ve deleted it. I do think he’s spent too much time reading his own press and he’s been brought on far too early. Maybe he’ll come right but I think its a long way off.
        I think Frisby is quite a good player I just don’t understand why he waits so long to get rid of the ball. Look how fast both Smith and Perenara move it and how much that makes the back line look better

        • idiot savant

          Agree completely but his mentor was Genia who went through a phase where he could light up a smoke before he cleared the ball. Hopefully pressure from Tuttle will speed Frisby up a little.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          It was like Marshall. It used to shit me to tears watching it. I wonder if part of Cooper crabbing across field is because he’s getting the defence on him too fast due to slow delivery

  • Tangawizi

    I think questions need to be asked about the attitude of some of the Reds players. They just didnt seem hungry enough and the Lions appeared far more enthusiastic.

    If a few Reds players are just there to collect paychecks/pensions well there are other places they can do that besides Ballymore.

    We appear to be lacking go forward & our scrum will be under huge pressure next weekend. So Nick Stiles, if youre reading this – pick Leroy Houston at 8 next week!

    The players clearly didnt respond to whatever riot act Stiles read after the Crusaders capitulation so is it too early to suggest their might be trouble in the ranks?

    Hopefully they realise this round the world tour isn’t actually a holiday and come out far more determined (and accurate) next weekend.

  • Gottsy

    Hunt has been the reds best player so far this season, hands down. He was definitely the stand out again, and his partnership with qc and paia’aua is developing nicely.
    I’ve got concerns with the back row. It feels unbalanced- maybe it’s time to give Leroy Houston a run at 8? Not sure though, as the balance just doesn’t seem to be there. I remember one grubber kick from Higgers when we were on the front foot that had me wanting to throw the remote at the tv.
    Losing slipper is a blow. Not that Vanzati wasn’t up to it, but since losing Greg Holmes we just don’t have that much experience in the front row, and we don’t seem to be able to deal with cheeky scrum tactics.
    Cooper needs to adjust his tackling technique. I thought it was extremely harsh to get the red, but unfortunately that kind of inconsistency in officiating is just going to be part of life this year.

    All that said, the lions were quite good in most parts of the game, shouldnt say that the only reason they won is because the reds were poor!

    • SuckerForRed

      Vansati is young and was hurled into the deep end on the weekend. Feel for the poor bugger. Now we will see how quickly he learns. As you said, those cheeky scrum tatics might have beought him undone.

      I actually don’t think the Red for Cooper was as inconsistent as some people think. Guidelines are clear that deliberate forceful contact with the head = red. I haven’t seen if he has been suspended but I would expect a couple of weeks at least. And deserved.

      • Gottsy

        I agree that guidelines are clear, and as such was a clear red. Are we getting the same result for every infringement though? In my opinion, no. Can you say that it was as bad as Luatua taking someone out with a coat-hanger off the ball a couple of weeks ago? Hardly, but the result will probably the same. At least cooper completed the tackle, it was just really shitty technique!

        • SuckerForRed

          That’s why I would hope Cooper doesn’t get the 4 weeks reduced from Lauatua gets. But you know the citing chocie wheel……

        • Gottsy

          Haha yep, it’s all just part of the mystery isn’t it!

      • Who?

        I agree – the RC was consistent with the directive. It’s just that the other ones haven’t necessarily been consistent with the directive. Even the two at Suncorp last week (one of which was QC!) could’ve been YC’s, under the directives…
        Who’d have thought that, of all the Aussie players out there, it’d be a bloke with a reputation (deserved or not) as a tackling flake who’d be brought undone by the new directive? Quade needs to remember he can actually tackle around the legs. The other funny thing is that I remember he was also one of those who came unstuck in the era when lifting tackles were the ones to be heavily targeted…

  • John Tynan

    I’m not a Cooper hater, but I was interested to note that McIntyre entering the game brought Paia’aua into the game more and the shorter passing game resulted in morte line breaks. I wasn’t a McIntyre fan last year, and still don’t see a lot in him, but at least he was able to use the resources in the back line more effectively than QC.

    The only benefit I got from recording rather than getting up was being able to fast forward at restarts and minimise the exposure time!

    • SuckerForRed

      I do wonder if McIntyre managed to use the resources on the backline more because he was sent onto the field with the instruction not to go the Kerevi as the default position. Just a thought that the change in game plan may have been the trigger. If that is the case then QC needs a double clip under the ear cause he should have recognized the need to change the plan at the 10 minute mark.

      PS – I love Jakey to death but I am just not sure that he is fully ready for the big time yet. His boot seems a little under powered & his decision making gets a bit scatty, but he is not on his Pat Malone there in the squad at the moment. I expect he will be getting his chance soon though.

  • skip

    Caveats about a side developing aside, the only set move seems to be “give it to Samu, he’ll do something”.

Queensland Reds

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