Match Review: Reds v. Bulls - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Match Review: Reds v. Bulls

Match Review: Reds v. Bulls

The Reds came into this game with a three-and-two record so far this season on the back of a lacklustre 19-12 loss against the Force last week. The last match between these two teams was in March last year at the height of the Reds’ injury crisis, when the Bulls won 61-8 in Pretoria. However, prior to this match the Bulls had never beaten the Reds at Suncorp Stadium and only beaten the Reds once in Brisbane (2004).

The match saw the return of James Horwill, Anthony Faingaa and Digby Ioane to the Reds’ starting side for a clash that many believed the Reds could not afford to lose. Whether the news this week that Ewen McKenzie would depart from the Reds at the end of the season would have any impact on the Reds’ performance was an unknown factor.

The Bulls made nine changes to their team after a 41-19 loss to the Crusaders last week in Christchurch where they conceded six tries. Regular Bulls and Springboks fly-half Morné Steyn started on the bench but was expected to be a threat when he came on to the field, having kicked five from five attempts at goal last week.

The Match



After a fairly even start to the match a farcical decision left the Reds a man short when Jono Lance was given a yellow card in the 11th minute after an alleged lifting tackle on Bulls lock Grant Hattingh. Two quick penalties to the Bulls gave them a 6-3 lead after 15 minutes.

The Reds had the better of the half and showed an intent to attack that has been missing in recent weeks. Good opportunities in the 22nd and 26th minutes were missed when James Horwill and Ben Tapuai dropped the ball when the Reds were hard on attack.

But it wasn’t until the 35th minute that the Reds finally clicked into gear on the back of a series of great plays from Will Genia. The speed of his delivery from the base of the ruck, his vision and the fact that he’s such a threat with his sniping runs make him such a threat for any defence and so it proved for the Bulls, with Genia having multiple touches before Quade Cooper broke through and popped a great ball to Lance who crashed over the line.

The Reds then finished the first half with a flurry and started to look like the team of 2011, but the Bulls held them out with the Reds taking a 13-6 lead into halftime.

The Reds came out in the second half and decided to play from their own half – a tactic that backfired when they conceded three quick penalties allowing the Bulls to grab back the lead after 49 minutes.

The previous yellow card was evened up in the 52nd minute when Grenton Mapoe was sent to the bin for another alleged tip tackle, this time on James Slipper, and the Reds took advantage from the ensuing penalty with a good try to a player who looked a lot like one we saw running around in 2011, Quade Cooper.

Both teams had chances in the final twenty minutes and the Bulls were denied a try after the bell thanks to a try-saving tackle from Chris Feauai-Sautia. The Reds held on to win 23-18.

The Reds had their big four (Horwill, Genia, Cooper and Ioane) on the park together for the first time in a long time and what a difference it made to their overall performance. They also scrambled really well in defence to keep the Bulls tryless. There were still plenty of errors but it was a step forward for the Reds tonight.

Finally, if those two ‘tip’ tackles tonight are the benchmark for yellow cards in 2013, rugby is going soft.

The Game Changer

The two yellow cards had the potential to be game changers but for me it had to be Will Genia’s multiple involvements in the 35th minute to spark the Reds’ first try, which set them on their way.

Key Performances

James Horwill played a solid half of rugby in his comeback match. Jono Lance, Ben Tapuai and Digby Ioane were good and Quade Cooper had a fantastic return to form.


Despite playing only 66 minutes Will Genia was the absolute stand-out – the Reds look a completely different team with him on the park.

The Details

Score & Scorers:






Drop Goals:


Jono Lance (36th min), Quade Cooper (54th min)
Quade Cooper – 2 from 2
Quade Cooper – 3 from 5




Louis Fouche – 5 from 6, Morne Steyn – 1 from 1


Jono Lance (Reds) – Yellow – 11th minute
Grenton Mapoe (Bulls) – Yellow – 52nd minute


James Leckie (Australia)


28,399 – another solid home crowd for the Reds

  • Definitely QC’s best game for some time. Still not at the attacking heights we’ve seen from him in the past but its about time and bloody good to see him tackling!!
    He put in some great hits too!!

  • bill

    Much better from the Reds though I’d still like to see some first phase attack thrown into the mix.

    Kind of wonder how the Quade haters would feel after that game. What they seem to overlook in their criticism is what we saw in Jono Lance’s try, trust in your teammates. From the tv angles I had Quade couldn’t have seen Lance, only trusted someone would turn up.

    Contrast that faith to the faith Robbie showed in his player’s abilities ….which is to say none.

    Quade haters , brains the size of peas and hearts to match.

    the first card was consistent with how the game’s been reffed the last couple of years. The second was genuinely poor. But given the Bulls didn’t seem to want to use their wings it was inconsequential .

    Roughest call of the night would have been Ludeke dragging Basson, except Serpentine looked very lively to say the least. Mackenzie kind of outplayed Ludeke tonight

    • Muffy

      Bill the issue with Quade for most is his ability to lose the match and to win it. He was excellent tonight no doubt, but the three games prior… Not so much.

      But give the forwards credit here too, they gave quick clean ball and both Will and Frisbee were fast and accurate. That makes any 10 look good.

      I love watching Quade at his best, but equally hate watching him hand possession straight back..

      • Westo

        And he at least made one cracking dominant tackle forcing a knock on. Admittedly from his own poor kick, but what a hit.

      • bill

        True. Consistent performance and good form have been an issue for him, no doubt, reasonable criticism’s fair enough. But listening to a fair bit of the bullshit said about him here you’d think he was hopeless, some people seem real keen for him to fail.

  • Tangawizi

    On the first yellow card, I had the SportsEars in and it seemed the ref made the decision without much input at all from the TMO. He basically watched it on the big screen and made his decision to go to the pocket.

    Much better from the Reds tonight but it does seem that this year once they’re in front they’re taking the foot off the opponents throat rather than going on with it.

    And that is partly Link’s doing through all his pre-planned subs. How good would benching Horwill & Genia have looked if the Bulls jagged a 2 point win? Only millimetres in it

    • Old Weary

      I assume Link would be looking at the bigger picture and ensuring they are both there on the follow week. I am sure he would have been happier to lose by a couple of points rather than have them injured again.

    • handles_olove

      Pre-game plan was 40 minutes each, so he had already gone to the well again with Genia. Rehab is science these days, apparently.

      • Mick

        Nah, pre-game plan was 40 for Horwill, 60 for Genia. Next week it is 60 for Horwill, 80 for Genia.

  • theduke

    Good intent form the reds. Horwill consistently going for the tap rather than points showed how hungry he was to be back out there. Some sloppy play, but it did look like strong glimpses of the 2011 Reds. Would be great to have had Gill on as well. Then we’ll be contenders.

    • bill

      partly re Horwill and points, think Cooper needs to improve his kicking more though. It’s pretty easy to do, just take a leaf ot of Bradman’s book, find a flat wall and kick a soccer ball against it from 3-5m and see how many volleys you can make. You may laugh but you’d be surprised how much your foot/body awareness and accuracy improves.

      still Jonathon Thurston is far and away the best kicker I’ve seen.

      • jkb

        90% of thurstons kicks are from within the 22, go 30 metres out and 15 in and he’d fall short.

  • Lindommer

    Dunno what you saw SA, but that photo shows the blue player well past the horizontal. YC for mine…

  • Graeme

    The first was a correct yellow, he was tipped over the horizontal and let down without comtrol. The Bull’s player managed to get his arm on the ground and use some impressive strength to hold his upper body off the ground. If it wasn’t for that he’d have come down on his shoulder/neck.

    Apart from a couple of kicks I thought Genia had a blinder. I’d forgotten how bloody good he really is! And was certainly the difference between the teams. Good to see Quade getting some of his old spark back, Australian as well as Reds rugby need Quade back. I thought he played very well, but I still think he is not quite there. He seems to be hesitating and thinking more compared to the spontaneity of earlier, and it was not always a good thing. An example was the break by Simmons near the end, which ended well, but actually came about because of QC seeming to loose composure and become indecisive near his own line.

    Reds are making a lot of mistakes, and are nowhere near their best. But is is a strong Bulls team, and if they can reduce the unforced errors, and avoid injuries they will be strong finals contenders at the tail end of the season.

  • bill

    That 2nd debutante for Qld looked all right , I expect to be familiar wth his name shortly.

    • handles_olove

      Curtis Browning. 10 Schoolboy caps. A player, without doubt

  • Petea

    No way the second was a yellow, Slipper appeared to jump into the tackle. The Ref was poor tonight, The Reds were lucky with some early penalties but were overall deservered winners.
    Heart in mouth stuff at the end. Go you white paint.

    Good to see Quade on the way back.

  • JKB

    No QC…no 2 tries to nil.
    No Genia…no space or position for Quade.
    They are the difference for the Reds and Wallabies

  • Piggy

    I’m pretty sure no reporters watched this game. It was JJ Engelbrecht who went into touch at the end, Basson had been subbed for Surfenturfabout 20 minutes prior

  • Scotty

    Not really sure where to put this comment in…

    On those yellow cards, i thought they were both soft. I see where there is an effort to “stamp out” the whole spear tackling, but that was really bad – maybe a penalty to make a point, but not yellow cards.

    Regardless, they made me think – is there a way that a tackled player can manipulate the tackle to get in that kind of position? It’s good gain for the side (well, it was for the Reds; the Bulls couldn’t use it). Obviously there is a risk that one could get into serious trouble, but considering both of those cases on Saturday, it seems worth it.

    Could this be a new thing to coach?

    • Piggy

      The liability issues around that would scare off must coaches… at least you’d hope so…
      Teaching them to act like Marcell ‘Marceau’ Coetzee would be safer…

  • Roscoe Tims

    For the life of me I can’t see why QC didn’t go for the droppie right at the end of the game to seal a win and put them 8 points ahead. A lack of composure or what?

    What an embarrassment it would have been if Engelbrecht had scored. Who was the captain at the end? If I was Link I’d throttle them…

Queensland Reds

Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

More in Queensland Reds