Match Preview: Reds v Lions - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Match Preview: Reds v Lions

Match Preview: Reds v Lions

Change is afoot for the Queensland Reds this weekend with the organisation mixing things up big time in the hope of (1) re-engaging their fan base and (2) pulling off a win*. Firstly, it’s the Reds sole afternoon game of the season which theoretically makes it more family-friendly. Just as long as those families aren’t attending other rugby such as AIC Schools 1st XV matches.

Secondly, and as an extension of the above, the match will celebrate the “Rugby Family Round” which aims to celebrate the grassroots of the sport. As a gesture of this recognition the Reds players will be wearing the socks of either their school or club.

Finally, there are a whole heap of changes to the Match Day 23 but we’ll get into that a little later.


With the Lions sitting pretty o top of the South African conference, and the Reds sitting second bottom in the Oz version, you’d suggest form sits nicely on the visitor’s side. But will the home ground advantage kick in?

Don’t count on it. According to Opta Stats the Lions have won their last six games in Australia and in fact have won those games by an average margin of 15 points. Yikes.


There’s changes aplenty here.  George Smith makes his first run on appearance of the season after returning from the bench last week. He was one of the team’s most penalised players last year and gave away another three in his cameo last week which seems to conflict with the improved discipline of the team in 2018.

While gaining one veteran, the Reds lose two more as Jono Lance and James Slipper are unavailable through injury. Hamish Stewart and JP Smith will both make their run on debuts with Stewart’s inclusion particularly exciting. There is more intrigue out wide with teenage utility back Jordan Petaia to start in place of Izaia Perese.  Meanwhile 19 year old prop Harry Hoopert looks set to make his debut from the bench.

It’s always fascinating when new faces are given opportunities but it can also be quite confounding.  There must be some players training like actual champions while others must be dragging their arses. How else can you explain the fortunes of the likes of Andrew Ready, Sef Fa’agase, Duncan Paia’aua and James Tuttle none of whom can seem to get a decent run in the run-on side? Is the focus really on future development over immediate performance? How else can the selection of these teenagers, regardless of their potential?


The Lions have only had to make one change to their side that defeated the Waratahs 29-0 last weekend.  Springbok utility Lionel Mapoe is out of the team with a strained groin leading to a reshuffle in the midfield with Harold Vorster moving to 13 and Rohan Janse van Rensburg being promoted to 12 from the bench.

After a strong start to the season, the Lions managed to lose three games in four before having won their last two.  The Lions currently lead the competition in points for, tries scored as well as turnovers won and lineout success.



1 JP Smith
2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa
3 Taniela Tupou
4 Izack Rodda
5 Kane Douglas
6 Angus Scott-Young
7 George Smith
8 Caleb Timu
9 Ben Lucas
10 Hamish Stewart
11 Jordan Petaia
12 Samu Kerevi (C)
13 Chris Feauai-Sautia
14 Filipo Daugunu
15 Aidan Toua


16 Alex Mafi
17 Harry Hoopert
18 Ruan Smith
19 Harry Hockings
20 Adam Korczyk
21 Moses Sorovi
22 Duncan Paia’aua
23 Isaia Perese


1 Jacques van Rooyen
2 Malcolm Marx
3 Ruan Dreyer
4 Andries Ferreira
5 Marvin Orie
6 Kwagga Smith
7 Franco Mostert
8 Hacjivah Dayiman
9 Dillon Smit
10 Elton Jantjies
11 Madosh Tambwe
12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg
13 Harold Vorster
14 Ruan Combrinck
15 Andries Coetzee


16 Robbie Coetzee
17 Dylan Smith
18 Johannes Jonker
19 Lourens Erasmus
20 Marnus Schoeman
21 Marnus Shoeman
22 Nic Groom
23 Ashlon Davids


Brandon Paenga-Amosa runs

Brandon Paenga-Amosa runs

Stewart v Jantjies
Stewart’s first start for the Reds becomes perhaps a little later than many expected. With Jono Lance proving a calming head in the middle, as well as a rock solid defender, the rookie has had to make do with minimal minutes from the bench. He gets his start this weekend however, and must match wits with one of the most influential playmakers in Super Rugby.

Marx v BPA
It’s a big task to expect Super Rugby rookie Paenga-Amosa to match it with one of the best hookers in world rugby at the moment. Fact is that Marx is at the crux of some much that is good with the Lions and the Reds need to counter him somehow. BPA started the season in fine form, and with the absence of Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau, has a chance to push for an unlikely Wallaby jersey. A big performance up against Marx this week will boost his cause.

Rodda v Mostert
while Mostert’s move from lock to the side of the scrum caused some raised eye-brows earlier in the season, it’s in fact provide the Lions a physical edge on most of their opponents. The set piece also benefits. Mostert is the #1 lineout forward in the competition currently boasting 45 clear wins including nine steals. Young Rodda has been the standout performer for the Reds pack this year and will need to match Mostert’s physicality across the park and somehow counter him in the lineout too.


Despite my best efforts, and my pre and early season commitment to #manageexpectations, I fell into the trap of believing the hype.  I anticipated wins against both the Waratahs and Brumbies and was excited about the opportunities that may open up.

In reality those games, as well as the one last week against the Chiefs, showed that the team remains a very immature one.  Perhaps the impact of Thorn’s messaging around aggression and physicality was starting to wear off, and the seeming lack of strategy or match tactics behind it was laid bare. I can’t see the team changes this week turning things around too much, although I think Stewart may provide some more opportunities for his outside men if the Reds pack (and scrumhalf) can get him decent ball.

In reality though, the Lions are deserving favourites and should be to the tune of at least 12 points.


Date: Saturday 28th April
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 3:05pm Brisbane time
Referee: Angus Gardner
AR1: Nic Berry
AR2: Damon Murphy
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore
Weather: Slight chance of showers, max of 25°


*note. This is just my assumption that the team wants to win. Listening to post-match press conferences it seems at times the intent is about just building a team that can compete next year or the year after.  I have made this assumption that they still prepare themselves with some intent to win each game however.

  • Christopher

    I’m guessing it’s TV driven – but scheduling during the QPR matches is hilarious. With a close run competition, free entry and tries being scored, I know where I’d be going.

    • RugbyReg

      my bad with that (and I’ve updated the article) but QPR this weekend is actually being played on Sunday.

      • Christopher

        Phew – the scary thing is I wasn’t surprised if they had of been run concurrently.

        • RugbyReg

          agreed. I had just assumed there would be no club games, but then checked the draw and saw they were indeed on this weekend without picking up the games were on Sunday.

      • McWarren

        Good stuff, I’m looking forward to Quade playing at the Kennel and now I can get there.

    • John Tynan

      Prems is on Sunday

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    I can’t wait until the Brumbies-Crusaders funeral program is published…

    • GoMelbRebels

      Hey, this could be the first Aussie win over a Kiwi side!

  • McWarren

    My main concerns for the reds is at 9 & 10. I’m all for Stewart’s inclusion but fear he will be hamstrung with Lucas’ slow delivery. I’d have start Moses with Tuttle on the bench. I’m guessing Stewart will take kicks for goal?

    I think the Lions will be too experienced and just a better and settled team at the moment.

    Lions by 10-15

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I for the life of me cannot understand how Sorovi is not starting. As the Rugby Report Card boys said, the season is over for the Brumbies and the Reds, and preseason starts now. Start Sorovi and either Stewart at 10 or give him serious minutes off the bench.

      The current strategy is not going to work longterm, and the season will not be a successful one from the Reds in terms of challenging for the comp. The most an Aussie side can hope for is to make the QF.

      • McWarren

        Agree. We’re falling into the same trap as the last few years. Maintaining an illusion that we can still trouble the finals. Shortermism has taken over from the outset. A talent like Stewart is being wasted twofold in my eyes. If he was coming on for cameo’s behind QC then fine, but I’m not sure Lance offers the same mentor qualities, and I’m a Lance fan. But if it has to be Lance then Stewart needs at least equal game time, and game time with either Sorovi or Tuttle. He and Tuttle were very good together for Qld Country.

        In saying all this I think we need to treat Thorn like we would like him to treat the youngsters. he is new to this level of coaching. He needs to learn and grow as well. Unfortunately he is asked to do it at Super level. Another two seasons of Stiles with Thorn supporting would have been ideal in my eyes. Thorn needed three years of Premier Grade and Qld Country coaching before assuming the Reds job. But it is what it is now, so I think we need to stick with him or risk losing whatever growth he has acheived so far. This was always a development year or two for the Reds players and Coach.

        Like all things in Oz rugby we haven’t been patient with how we want to achieve results. Chopping and changing coaches, buying in League stars, changing eligibility rules, all these things and more have arisen because we think we can get instant results.

        IMO we need to leave Thorn there and try and kill the cycle of impatient decisions by making sure this one is correct. I believe Brad Thorn can be a good head coach if allowed to be.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Preemptive promotion doesn’t help anyone.

          I’m not sure being thrown straight into coaching the Reds after one year of NRC has helped Thorn.

        • McWarren

          I don’t think it has either, but dumping him now or at the end of this season will make matters worse.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies


        • Gipetto

          Can it get worse! Selections need to be taken out of his hands. I bet Quade is enjoying captaining a club rugby team rather than being coached by Brad.

        • McWarren

          It can definitely get worse. We haven’t hit Woody G type frustrating yet, we look very competitive for large parts of games, and we seem too have a lot of promising youngsters who look up to Thorn and experienced players who respect him. I’d like to see QC back as well, but I think in Oz rugby and in Reds rugby in particular we focus too much one decision we don’t agree with or possible coaching weak point and miss all the other good things happening.

        • idiot savant

          Agree with your thoughts on Thorn Mac. I heard Thorn say in one of the post game pressers that what made the kiwi teams great was intensity, smart rugby, skill sets, and great athletes. Which seems a good summation to me. Lets hope he plans to work on each of these areas with the Reds. I haven’t seen a whole lot of smart rugby yet.

      • Simon

        Agree too. IMO a quality 9 at Super level has two critical attributes – quick ball delivery and a genuine threat from the scrum/ruck base to pin a defender. A good box kick comes a distant third.

        Of the current upcoming crop of 9s, Jake Gordon is the clear leader in those attributes, Matt Lucas and Moses Sorovi are the only others who come close. Joe Powell could snipe a bit more, Ben Lucas and James Tuttle just don’t deliver quick enough ball.

  • Gareth

    Dont mind the shake up with rookie’s as last weeks effort was awful. Happy that smith is starting as he made quite an impact in the 2nd half. The reds matched the chiefs in the 2nd half, but i am not sure whether this was the chiefs taking to foot off the accelerator or the reds getting their act togther.

    Hoping Stewart delivers, he will be key for 2019 with out lance.

    • Christopher

      Which Smith?? Not the one that gave away 3 penalties in 5 minutes??

  • Mart

    Duncan Paia’aua needs more game time not less. He’s a quality player

  • McWarren

    Angus Gardner to null and void our scrum and kill off our defence by not policing the Lions ‘line speed’. One mans line speed is another mans offside. I just wish our offside defence was as consistent as the Lions or any Kiwi team. Never ceases to amaze me how players in teams like the Reds can seemingly forget one week to the next just how to defend. One week the defense is brilliant, rushing up, closing space, keeping the line, keeping the ‘line speed’, then the next week it appears that these concepts are all completely foreign to them?

    Musing over, thanks for reading.

    • Simon

      One thing I’ve noticed this season is that pretty much all sides are offside all the time. Very, very rarely is a defensive line genuinely behind the last feet, even the first defender out from the ruck.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      A learning year mate. For me as long as they develop consistency and show incremental improvement then the year is not a loss

  • John Tynan

    “Despite my best efforts, and my pre and early season commitment to #manageexpectations, I fell into the trap of believing the hype. I anticipated wins against both the Waratahs and Brumbies and was excited about the opportunities that may open up.”

    Plus 1, Reg. Plus 1.

  • idiot savant

    Thanks Reg. I fell into the same trap.

    I also thought the same abut George Smith when he started getting pinged again. It hardly felt like he’d been away! I did feel for him on one of these penalties where Sorovi had been pulled off his feet into the ruck so George elected himself halfback and went in and got the ball and was penalised for it! That one wasn’t fair.

    Id like to see DP come into 12 as early as possible. Personally Id move Kerevi to the wing because CFS will keep the ball alive but I guess the conservative play is Kerevi to 13 and CFS to the wing. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Perese have a run at 15. What have the Reds got to lose now anyway?

  • Adrian

    I think the Reds will pressure the Lions, and be a chance if the Lions are tired and/or tired and emotional.
    I don’t mind Stewart being picked, and I think he’ll make as many breaks as Lance,…not many.
    This could change if Sorevi comes on and provides fast ball. Even more breaks are possible via Duncan P, even if he’s given a run at full-back.
    If the above doesn’t eventuate, then Douganu might grab a loose ball and run 80.
    Scrum will be ok with JP Smith, and Tuopo gets another chance to show how he has improved.
    Smith’s leadership will help…a lot.
    The Reds need to keep composed, even if losing.
    Can’t tip them though.

  • Brumby Runner

    Expect to be heavily penalised in the early parts of the match, and given his intolerance for any of Pocock’s ruck involvements last week, Gardner will have a very sharp eye on George today.

    Good luck, Reds. You will need it.

  • Adsa

    Perese on the bench after one game, I have been waiting all year to see him on the park, Thorn selection are curious to say the least. Sef Faigese seems to be on the outer with a 20 year old as back up. I liked seeing Sef and Ready pack together, just poetry when they showed the Tah rake what theirs knees looked like. How do you get carded and suspended for that?

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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