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

Match Preview: Reds v Sunwolves

Match Preview: Reds v Sunwolves

These are unusual times in Queensland as Reds fans, somewhat discretely, are starting to feel a little positive about where their team is at.  Yeah, ok, so they are still sitting second bottom on the conference ladder but they are just six points away from the Rebels on top.

With some tough games coming up for the other Aussie sides this weekend, who knows where the conference ladder will land come Sunday morning. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and focus on this Friday night when the Reds host the bottom of the ladder Sunwolves.


  • The Reds have won three of their four Super Rugby clashes with the Sunwolves, a 28-63 loss in May 2018 representing their only defeat in that run.
  • The Reds’ last seven home games have all been decided by double figure margins, with the Queensland side winning four and losing three in that spell.
  • The Sunwolves have won two of their four away games this season (L2),this after losing their initial 23 games on the road in Super Rugby.
  • The Sunwolves enjoy a goal kicking success rate of 95% in Super Rugby 2019, the best of any team in the competition and 14 percentage points greater than that of the Reds.
  • Samu Kerevi (Reds) has beaten 40 defenders in Super Rugby 2019, the most of any player and seven more than Sunwolves’ best Semisi Masirewa (33).


The Sunwolves have only won the two games this year with their first coming in Round 3 against the Chiefs.  A series of close losses was eventually ended in Round 7 when they defeated the Waratahs however they haven’t managed a win since. In fact they’ve suffered a couple of big losses with the Rebels putting 40 on them in Round 8 and then the Highlanders slamming them 52-0 last week.

The Reds are coming off a bye following their return from their South Africa trip where they managed a win and a loss outcome. After a mixed start to the season, with losses in their first two games, the Reds have now won four of their last six games – a ‘streak’ that commenced with a hard fought win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo back in Round 5.

Hayden Parker feeds his back line.

Hayden Parker must marshall his troops as well as kick his goals this week.


University of Queensland winger, Jock Campbell, will make his run on debut for the Reds on Friday night following some good touches from the bench in South Africa. While he gets his chance through injuries to Jordan Petaia, Filipo Daugunu and Jack Hardy, Campbell has produced some excellent performances in QLD Premier Rugby and the NRC.  Seb Wileman, a late addition to the Reds squad from the Warringah Rats, gets a bench spot with a chance to make his Super Rugby debut. Otherwise the team is as per it was when they defeated the Sharks a couple of weeks ago.

As for the Sunwolves, well they’ve made so many changes it is difficult to track.  Of note, the experienced Shota Horie is back in the side at hooker, while Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco switches from inside centre back to the backrow with Jason Emery back in the centres. Former Red Hendrick Tui will line up at blindside flanker with former Queensland schoolboy Ben Gunter on the bench.


Naivalu v Masirewa

Fijian-born, New Zealand educated, former Force player Masirewa has been highlight regular for the Sunwolves this season.  He’s sitting towards the top of the tournament try scorer’s list with seven tries in his nine games.  Naivalau, meanwhile, has only crossed the line once for the Reds so far but has been a standout all year.  The hard running winger, supposedly the fastest in Australia, has shown his physicality and off-loading ability in combining with the likes of Samu Kerevi and Chris Feauai-Sautia.  His time with the Reds may only be a short one, but it’s been an impressive one so far.

Horie v Mafi

Just coincidentally we have another former Rebel here with Shota Horie having played for the Melbourne team on 18 occasions. The 58 capped test player for the Cherry Blossoms brings an important and experienced edge to the Sunwolves team against the ‘young Reds team’ ©. Meanwhile the form of Alex Mafi has seen him leadfrog last year’s Wallaby Brandon Paenga-Amosa on the back of the impact he brings to the game away from the set piece. If he can find consistency with his throwing then a Wallaby cap won’t be far away.

Sefa Naivalu

Sefa Naivalu wouldn’t mind getting across the tryline a few times this week


REDS (15-1): Hamish Stewart, Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi (c), Sefa Naivalu, Bryce Hegarty, Tate McDermott, Scott Higginbotham, Liam Wright, Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert

Reserves: Brandon Paenga-Amosa, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Harry Hockings, Adam Korczyk, Moses Sorovi, Duncan Paia’aua, Seb Wileman

SUNWOLVES (15-1): Ryohei Yamanaka, Gerhard van den Heever, Jason Emery, Phil Burleigh, Semisi Masirewa, Hayden Parker, Keito Shigeno, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Kara Pryor, Hendrik Tui, Luke Thompson (c), Grant Hattingh, Hiroshi Yamashita, Shota Horie, Masataka Mikami

Reserves: Nathan Vella, Pauliasi Manu, Takuma Asahara, Tom Rowe, Ben Gunter, Jamie Booth, Yu Tamura, Jamie Henry


These Reds are a tough team to pick. It makes complete sense to pick them to win this one by a decent margin but you can never tell which team will turn up.  They’ve drawn so many ‘lines in the sand’ this season there’s serious erosion fears around Ballymore. If it was any team rather than the Sunwolves, though, I’d be worried.  Reds by 22.

  • sambo6

    Random thought for the day: Remember when the Reds signed Ayumu Goromaru……

    What the fuck was that all about?

    • Geoffro

      Toulon were fooled too and he actually played 5 games for them. Mostly off his form at rwc15 and a win over the Bokke.A bit like Nard,the odd good game can keep you in the mix.

  • Roscoe Tims aka Lance Free

    Is Aiden Toua injured?

    • RugbyReg

      played club on the weekend, so I don’t think so.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Reg, cant disagree too much. I think initially the Sunwolves had the anger of being sacked that boost them for a couple of games but now I think the players are already thinking of their next gig. I think unless the Reds really stuff up they’ve got this one

    • muffy

      Sadly they have proved many times they are quite capable of “really stuffing it up”…

  • Adrian

    Yes, should be Reds by plenty, so long as they don’t get sucked into quick plays in the backs like they did last year.

    I like to remind people that I tipped the Reds to lose last year, and the nature of it…rope a dope

  • idiot savant

    Brave prediction Reg. I think this will be another close one. Particular styles of play challenge particular teams. eg. The Brumbies style challenges the Tahs, and the Tahs style challenges the Rebels. The Sunwolves style challenges the Reds as witnessed by the absolute flogging they handed out last year and the last gasp lucky win the Reds managed earlier this season.

    The Sunwolves play everything fast which challenges the slow Reds pack. I thought the Moondogs ran out of steam last time which opened the door and fortunately the speed of McDermott, Stewart and Lucas were able to do just enough to take advantage of it. If the Reds are to win, ASY and Wright will be important and Hegarty has to keep up the speed that he brought to the Sharks game last outing. Defence will be key particularly out wide and particularly in the first 50 minutes. If the margin is kept tight the travel might kick in and the Reds can come over the top in the last 30.

  • Brumby Runner

    Reds with a relatively easy win on the back of Kerevi, CFS and Naivalu running at will off Hegarty. Never thought much of Hegarty as a SR player, but he complements Kerevi quite nicely.

    With at least 5 Wallabies in the Reds side, and potentially two or three more in the next year or two, they really need to be superior to a Sunwolves side that is now coming to terms with being shafted at the end of 2020.

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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