Match Preview: Reds finally meet their cut Force kin - Green and Gold Rugby
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Match Preview: Reds finally meet their cut Force kin

Match Preview: Reds finally meet their cut Force kin

It’s a clash that, despite not having been played for about four years, still is one of the most intense clashes in Super Rugby – at least off the field. There are some single-minded Reds fans who still haven’t forgiven the ‘newcomers’ of the West for poaching many of our key players.  Like Nathan Sharpe. And Digby Ioane. And Luke Doherty. And Junior Pelesasa. And Scott Daruda. And Rudi Vedelago. And Tai McIsaacs. And Dave Te Moana. And Tajhon Mailata. And Josh Graham. And Vitori Buatava. And Matt Windle. And Brett Stapelton. And Richard Brown. And Josh Fuimaono. And Ben Ward. Oh…and David Pocock.

Meanwhile there are some single-minded Force fans who still haven’t forgiven the Reds for being…well, for being on the east coast of Australia it seems.

You have to go all the way back to 2017 to find the last time the Western Force actually beat the Reds which would be significant if it wasn’t for the fact that you have to go back to 2015 for the last time the Reds beat the Force.  All up, the lads from the West hold the upper hand with nine wins out of the teams’ 18 clashes, one of which was a draw.

The Teams

Andrew Ready

Andrew Ready back at his old stomping ground

The Force are coming off their first game of the Super Rugby season, a loss to the Waratahs in Sydney.  They started wonderfully and looked by far the more disciplined and structured team. While the Waratahs came back, the Force made many people sit up and take notice and definitely have Reds fans on edge this weekend.

Once again there is a heavy Queensland influence in their side, most notably the three who were a part of the 2011 Championship team. Greg Holmes, Jono Lance and Ian Prior will feel very much at home at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. At the same time Angus Wagner, Feleti Kaitu’u, Byron Ralston, Andrew Ready, Henry Teafu as well as travelling squad member s Nick Frisby and Jake Strachan will all enjoy the chance to catch up with family while back home. So too will coaches Tim Sampson and Van Humphreys.

The Reds are unconvincingly undefeated at the moment, on the back of a first round late run home to claim victory over the Tahs, and a 2nd round draw with the Rebels. While the scrum is excellent, and the forward general play is strong, both the lineout and the backline attack is struggling to deliver and must improve if they are to claim another win.

They’ve suffered a huge blow with lock Angus Blyth out because of a minor shoulder injury.  It sees Angus Scott-Young, who has played all his professional rugby in the backrow, now partner Lukhan Salakai-Loto for an all-hyphen lock combination.  Chris Feauai-Sautia gets a well deserved start on the wing, with Jock Campbell back to fullback where he stood out earlier this year.

There are a bucketload of changes on the bench with new prop cover in Dane Zander and Jack Stracker in line for a potential debut.  Another potential debutant is Ryan Smith as back up lock.

Key Match Ups

Jono Lance scored a try and kicked 6 goals in his last game for the Queensland Reds

Jono Lance back at his old stomping ground

Flyhalf is such a cliché, but this really is one to watch.  Two hardened veterans of multiple clubs and stints overseas.  One with extensive Wallaby caps, the other with a couple of Super Rugby titles. Each with a strong affinity to the Gold Coast…Jono Lance and James O’Connor hold the destiny of this match in their hands.  Lance, despite his versatility, appears extremely comfortable in the 10 jersey and has a natural inclination to get his backline moving forward in attack while underplaying his hand.  O’Connor, because of his versatility, appears still somewhat uncomfortable in the 10 jersey.  While the Reds backline has not yet clicked, JOC came up with three huge plays (four if you included the intercept) that were significant factors in the outcome.

Just one position further in we have another classic match up as Ian Prior matches up against Tate McDermott.  Both from the University of Queensland rugby club in Brisbane’s western suburbs, Prior has easily slipped into Matt Hodgson’s talisman role for the Force.  Not only are is cunning wiles around the pack a valued link between his well drilled pack and precise backline, but his goal kicking is arguably the best on the comp. McDermott, on the other end of the career spectrum, is more individual brilliance and flash.  Their contrasting styles, and indeed the quality ball they provide their respective halves partners, will be a big factor in this game.


Of course, I am going to pick the Reds, but am I entirely confident about it? No. I think if they play to their potential, what we saw glimpses of earlier this year, then they can. By a bit.  But we haven’t seen much of that so far this Super Rugby AU season so the confidence is not so high.  Reds by 4.


Chris Feauai-Sautia runs the ball with Nick Frisby offering moral support

Nick Frisby back at his old stomping ground


1. Harry Hoopert
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa
3. Taniela Tupou
4. Angus Scott-Young
5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
6.  Liam Wright [c]
7. Fraser McReight
8. Harry Wilson
9. Tate McDermott
10. James O’Connor
11. Filipo Daugunu
12. Hamish Stewart
13. Hunter Paisami
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia
15. Jock Campbell

16. Alex Mafi
17. Dane Zander
18. Jack Straker
19. Ryan Smith
20. Tuaina Taii Tualima
21. Scott Maloula
22. Josh Flook
23. Bryce Hegarty


1 Angus Wagner
2 Feleti Kaitu’u
3 Kieran Longbottom
4 Jeremy Thrush
5 Fergus Lee-Warner
6 Henry Stowers
7 Tevin Ferris
8 Brynard Stander
9 Ian Prior [c]
10 Jono Lance
11  Brad Lacey
12 Nick Jooste
13 Marcel Brache
14 Byron Ralston
15 Jack McGregor

16 Andrew Ready
17 Chris Heiberg
18 Greg Holmes
19 Ollie Callen
20 Ollie Atkins
21 Jacob Abel
22 Henry Taefu
23 Kyle Godwin


Date: Friday 17 July 2020
Venue: Suncorp Stadium Brisbane
Kick-Off: 7:05pm East Coast Elite Time
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan 

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Reg, Nice write up. I didn’t know that the Force had actually taken that many players out of the Reds area. I’m sure more to do with the chances of them getting into the Reds than anything else. The Force will definitely be competitive, they showed that last week, but they need to be able to keep it up for the full 80 minutes and that’s what let them down last week. I don’t see many changes to this yet but I do think they’ll get batter as the season goes. Personally not a fan of JOC at 10 and think he should be 1 place out at 12 but I do like Tait McDermott and looking forward to seeing him go again this week as I think he’s improving with every game. Hoping the Tupou pulls his head in this week and plays rugby rather than demonstrating how tough he thinks he is as he’s giving away too many penalties and needs to pull his head in. With you on the win but I think it’ll be further away and Reds by 10

    • Nutta

      I agree on JOC but I don’t think the Reds have much choice. Given Holmes can play both sides I would love to see him at No17 and give Tupou a crack but that likely won’t happen. Looking forward to seeing what Andrew Ready puts out as well – point to prove and all that. But I’ll go against the flow and back the Forcies.

    • JJ

      Reg, Bit rich adding David Pocock to your stolen Reds list. Zimbabwean until he was 12, and then went to school in Qld, but was picked up by the Force as a 17 year old. He played for 69 games for the Force and 43 games for the Brumbies. Pocock has never been near the Reds.
      Similar stories for Digby Ioanne and James OÇonnor, who played for the Force before they played for the Reds.
      Anyway Reg, I dont mind you adding a bit of spice to the game. I am tipping my Force, but the Reds have not left Brisbane yet and home games have been an advantage so far in all 4 Super AU games. Still as you reminded us the Force have beaten the Reds in Qld a few times sine 2015.

      • McWarren

        Didn’t the Reds play at Manly last week?

        • JJ

          OK, away game for both teams. so thus the draw.

        • McWarren

          You and your logic

        • JJ

          Well I hope the Force destroy that logic tomorrow.

      • Perth girl

        James Oconner was also 17 when signed by the Force

  • Mica

    So disappointed that we have now lost Rodda, Hocking and Isaac Lucas. Could really use them at the Reds to give some much needed depth. Don’t know the full story, but from the smatterings I have read it appears that they got some seriously bad advice from their agent. All had or would have had chances in the Wallabies and if I were in anyway good enough to play rugby like they do, this would be the pinnacle above all others. Might all be gone now………

    • Reds Revival

      I believe Dave Rennie and Scott Johnson have both left the door open for Isaac Rodda. Hopefully it is just a short stint OS for him.

      • Mica

        Hope so. A year ago our locking stocks at the Reds were looking great with 4 quality locks on the books. They are looking a bit skinny now……..

  • Perth girl

    Still butt hurt Reg?

    • RugbyReg

      at what Perth Girl?

      • Bobas

        Lol, the 2015 spanking

      • Perth girl

        Your little rant about the players the Force “ripped out” of the Qld system. In reality how many of them would have got a chance if the Force hadnt been around? Only Sharpie most likely

        • RugbyReg

          I think you missed the sarcasm in the article Perth Girl.


  • Yowie

    Good write-up. Love the grievance list.

    Perhaps as a pre-game opener we can have a “duelling violins” performance where a Reds fan then a Force fan each take turns playing the saddest violin song they can to channel the sense of grudge and historical insult maintained by each fan base?

  • Hoss

    Thanks Reg,

    It’s certainly close on paper, but i am a huge fan of the Reds loosies Wright, Little Poey – McReight and my fave Harry Wilson (did i read somewhere that last week he made the most runs by a forward in SR since 2004 – with 32 runs ?). Thrush edges them in the locks, but the Reds get the lollies in the engine room and then the backs decide the margin.

    The Force will be better for their run last week for sure, but so will the Reds – so, the reds, just, in a close one.

  • Geoffro

    Glad you only mentioned the force kin, Reds kin could be construed as offensive

    • idiot savant

      Roundheads vs the loyalists?

      • Geoffro

        Yer,a battle of Cromwellian proportion.Hopefully the loyalists (Reds) dont end up on the chopping block

  • UTG

    Reds by more than 2 scores if they get clean lineout ball.

    Campbell back at 15 will cause havoc if Prior and Lance aren’t accurate with their kicks in behind.

  • numpty

    Nice writeup. Reds know how to make it a nailbiter so expect this game to still be in the balance at the pointy end but the forwards should do enough in general play. Reds attack was poor last week with slow service from the ruck, McDermott needs to speed it up. If lineout is fixed (which I doubt given the loss of Blyth) they will do it easy. Good to see Campbeel back at 15.

    • idiot savant

      Agree about McDermott. His great weakness is the need to balance before passing. He’s great at sniping and smart as a whip but over a whole game his slow service affects the time the backs have. I think thats why Thorn promoted Maloula over him for a few games. Needs to happen again.

      • Adrian


      • numpty

        I think it was just an anomaly from last weeks wet weather. Last week was the first time I’ve seen him continuously leave the ball at the base for extended periods and the reds attack came to a halt because of it. But, I agree he needs to tighten up his technique/balance.

  • Huw Tindall

    I’m waiting for the Reds to click and put a team to the sword. It’s about time but they need the lineout to be OK to maintain momentum. They’ve got the grunt in the piggies and the firepower in the backs.

    • idiot savant

      Me too. But Thorn has been the line out coach since he took over. Cant see that changing.

    • Adrian

      The Reds clicked earlier this year Huw when Thorn put Scott Maloula at 9, and McDermott on the pine.
      Just saying

      • Huw Tindall

        Hey mate – reckon they’ve got it in them in Season 2.0 though? Sans the Picone 3 and Blyth is out this weekend as well. Their second row stocks in this match are probably worse than the Tahs and that’s saying something.

        • Adrian

          Yes Huw.
          Were ok tonight. There is something about the co-ordination between the backs and forwards that baffles me though.
          As an example, there was a midfield scrum tonight, all set up for potential set moves on either side. Instead of getting the ball in and out quickly, the pack decided to rumble forward, and the scrum screwed and somehow they turned it over.

        • Huw Tindall

          Excellent observation. I think the Reds scrum plays for a penalty sometimes rather than securing good ball for a set piece move. Even with a perceived dominant pack scrum penalties are too hit and miss to rely on then going in your favour. Overall still an exciting match and that first half was up there with the best halves of Super I’ve seen in years.

        • Adrian

          Lots is going well actually

  • Happyman

    Hi Reg

    Great write up. Don’t forget the Force Trojan horse letting us poach Richard Graham. Screwed us for 5 years. Lol.

    Honestly I have divided loyalty for this one but hopefully the Reds just.

Queensland Reds

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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