Match Preview Blues V. Reds
Northern Provincial Rugby

Preview: Reds give A Faingaa to the Blues

Preview: Reds give A Faingaa to the Blues

Anthony Faingaa is back! I’ve been hearing the rumours for days but I wasn’t getting my hopes up until I saw his name on an official team list. Well the QRU media release just hit my inbox and there he is at 22. The Starch in the Reds defencive line will finally reappear to scream orders at his team mates. Oh how I’ve missed that high pitched scream when the Reds have their backs to the wall. I’m excited Anthony Faingaa is back!

But this game isn’t all about Anthony Faingaa (he’s back). The Blues and the Reds have had seasons that both sides probably want to forget. Auckland recruited strongly in the off season and on paper should be right up with the front runners. I can’t tell you want went wrong with their game plan but for long periods of the games I have watched they just seem to be going through the motions. Then they will switch on the magic for 5 minutes and then just as quickly hit cruise control again. And it’s not one player or even a group of players. It’s like when you see a flock of birds all change direction at the same time. The blues players all turn on and off at exactly the same time. Here’s hoping they don’t figure out the problem until next week.

As for the Reds well the tale of their season is well documented. They have lost the services of their attacking and defencive leaders for the first 9 rounds of the competition. And every person who touches or has touched the 10 jersey winds up on crutches or in hospital. Now I could break down and cry a bit like a Waratahs fan circa 2011 or I can realise that the guys have done pretty well in trying circumstances. And we are still in with a chance of playing finals this year. It may be slim but it’s a chance.

The bad news for the Reds is Sam lane’s knee injury is season ending and Ben Tapuai’s Collar bone has him on an extended break as well. Van Humphrey’s has an arm injury and makes way for the return of Adam Wallace-Harrison possible the Reds best lineout jumper. Along with AW-H Digby Ioane returns from suspension to take over Tapaui’s centre spot. And Anthony Faingaa is back!

The Blues have lost loosehead legend Tony Woodcock to a calf injury. But apart from injuries to Mealamu and Boric field a full strength side.

Blues V. Reds - The Teams

Tevita Mailau1. LooseheadBen Daley
Tom McCartney2. HookerJames Hanson
Charlie Faumuina3. TightheadJames Slipper
Ali Williams4. LockRob Simmons
Filo Paulo5. LockJames Horwill
Daniel Braid6. BlindsideBeau Robinson
Luke Braid7. OpensideLiam Gill
Peter Saili8. # EightScott Higginbotham
Piri Weepu9. HalfbackWill Genia
Gareth Anscombe10. Fly HalfBen Lucas
Rudi Wulf11. WingDom Shipperley
Ma'a Nonu12. Inside CentreMichael Harris
Rene Ranger13 Outside CentreDigby Ioane
George Moala14. WingRod Davies
Hadleigh Parkes15. FullbackLuke Morahan
James Parsons16. ReserveAlbert Anae
Pauliasi Manu17. ReserveGreg Holmes
Liaki Moli18. ReserveAdam Wallace-Harrison
Chris Lowrey19. ReserveJake Schatz
Alby Mathewson20. ReserveEd Quirk
Michael Hobbs21. ReserveNick Frisby
Benson Stanley22. ReserveAnthony Faingaa

The Details

Venue &time: Eden Park, Auckland, Friday April 27, 17:35 EST

Head to Head: Played 17 – Blues 8, Reds 8, Draws 1

Last Time: Blues 13 – Reds 30

Referee: Craig Joubert

Weather: 17° Chance of showers.

Be part of the conversation on Twitter using #BluVReds

The Game Breaker

For the Reds Digby Ioane will be jumping out of his skin to get involved after 5 weeks on the sideline. The Blues centre pairing of Nonu and Ranger are just as dangerous on their day. Any of

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Liam Gill of t...

these three could break this game right open. But the man I think could be the game breaker is Liam Gill. The young openside has a shooting star next to his name. This week he runs out in tandem with Beau Robinson and against the Braid Brothers. Essentially four opensides starting the match. There is no hiding where the coach’s think the game will be won.


The Fearless Prediction

I’ve been to a few Blues V. Reds matches over the last few years and none of them have disappointed. No not even the the one at Ballymore where I stood soaked to the bone protecting my Rum a cokes from the torrential rain and watched the Reds try to play running Rugby when they could barely see each other. both teams are cruelled by injury. Both teams form is patchy. Both teams season is on the line! Both teams love to run the ball. If the weather stays fine conditions are perfect for Rugby. Both teams play similar styles. they like to play hard in the forwards then carve up in the backs and can be lethal on kick returns. The Blues forward pack is missing three key men in Woodcock, Mealamu and Boric and this may just give the Reds and advantage.

This is too close to call! Out of pure parochialism for the Reds I predict a win by 5.

Oh and Anthony Faingaa is back!

Enhanced by Zemanta
  • RockyElboa

    The Finger! The Reds have really missed his defensive management this year, assuming he performs well who will be dropped to the bench?
    You have to assume Lucas and Harris will remain, one runs the game the other keeps the in it with his boot. You have to think Diggers will remain somewhere, so it leave Shipperley, Morahan and Davies.

    I would dump Davies personally, Shipperley is faster and Morahan can kick.

    • RockyElboa

      9 Genia
      10 Lucas
      11 Shipperley
      12 Finger
      13 Diggers
      14 Morahan
      15 Harris

      • My guess is Harris at 12 Fiangaa at 13 And Ioane at 14. Davies or Morahan to the bench. Both to the bench when Cooper comes back and Lucas to fullback.

  • Jon

    Mailau is such a big step down from Woodcock, scrum dominance gone. I’m guessing Reds by 4

    • Woodcock is a huge loss for the blues. I’m still not certain about the Reds win though.

      But Anthony Faingaa is back so you never know

  • the realist

    A Faingaa is the most overrated player in Australia just ahead of his brother. He is noted for blindsiding opposition players which is all good and well but he misses too many front on tackles when players have a head of steam due to his lack of size and he is insignificant and simply mediocre in attack. Reds fans have the shortest memories in Australia. Last year Blues v Reds Ranger ran through A Faingaa like he was his bitch. Blues by 15. Just keeping it real.

    • vidiot

      Yep, reds fans have short memories. Though I can remember the score last year. Both times.

      • the realist

        Don’t worry you won’t have to remember last year because this weekend you’ll see a memorable game between the two worst sides in the comp.

        • vidiot

          The Reds are playing the Blues, not the Rebels or the Lions. Are you even paying attention?

        • Dave

          @the realist. Vidiot is more of a realist than you it seems. Your name must be an attempt at irony.

        • Brax

          The delusional troll more like.

    • Rene ranger is such a poor runner of the ball that his running through someone is memorable? No shame missing ranger on a hot run. the important thing to remember is Faingaa is back.

    • ula

      you are the daftest punk in the world. not sure if anyone else thinks that quade cooper is voldemort and has put a curse on the 10 jersey, but it would explain the injuries

  • wallaby fan

    Faingaa huh. Why get excited with the return of backs when reds forwards are pussies and won’t deliver them any quality ball?

    • Strong Words! the Reds forwards do okay.

      • wallaby fan

        Ah no the Reds forwards do not do okay. Horwill is no longer what he once was, Gill is a talent but 2 years off being a wallaby and the rest of them would struggle to get a start at most English club sides. How they won with that pack last year is a riddle wrapped in a maze of pure luck. That and outstanding halves and wingers of course.

        • Tangawizi

          A riddle wrapped in a maze of pure luck huh? I have a DVD of the Final you can watch over and over again if you’d like to try and solve it……..

        • Muffy

          Perhaps WF you read, and repeat, too much of what Bob Dwyer says…

          Bob knows his onions, but he is wrong (as most people are) from time to time..

          By the way, they did win last year (with that pack) so could it be that you are wrong?

        • bill

          wallaby fan, maybe you should change your name to waratahs fan.. force fan, rebels fan or “wallabies, except for the reds players fan” most of the guys you try to tip dirt on are wallabies, ahhh but they’re overrated aren’t they, damn knew I was overlooking something.

        • wallaby fan

          I respect the reds backs! (all except faingaa who i think is a good club player at best) I think they are so outstanding they win games without much ball and behind a beaten pack. ala this game against the Blues. Unfortunately too many of the current reds forwards played for the Wallabies last year based on a fairy floss style whicj is all fine at provincial level but at test level has no place. Having too many soft reds forwardds cost us at the RWC but in particular Samo, Higginbotham, Simmons and Horwill in that order. All this at a time that good test forwards copped ridiculous criticism mostly by vocal reds fans who think fairy floss forwards should be playing test rugby ahead of good proper test rugby players. This is not to mention the reds front row who are sub standard and should not be anywhere near a gold jersey.

          Well done to the reds backs v the Blues!

        • bill

          Well played wallabies fan, i disagree about your assessment but congrats on playing the ball not the man.

  • Alan

    Great write up, pumped as fuck for this one!

    ”Essentially four opensides starting the match”

    This alone will be worth paying the ticket price/tuning in. Should be a belter between two great teams desperate to make amends.

    • Thanks for the compliment Alan.
      One of my work mates is flying over for the match. So jealous right now!

  • Stormers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    best team in the comp by far mate,

    • Short attention span? Stormers are good but Crusaders are starting to look good as well.

  • Redman

    I saw genia on the rugby club..what a defeated man he looked.we are puting alot of hope on cooper to fix things. To much for one man I think. We need a star team not player.i think we read too much in to the hype this year.not the begining of a dynasty as we thought.looks like the big guns will fight it out this year.crusaders, bulls or stormers

    • He was very serious, but defeated? No I don’t think so, Maybe a man on a mission,

  • Gallagher

    Looks like rain, and with four opensides that means lots of penalites this year at ruck time, Reds to win with Harris’s boot and 9/9 penalties, a perfect bust and score from diggers and massive screaming defensive effort from Finger on at half time, Reds to walk this one in.

    • I think this is the reds best backrow! Lets hope not too many penalties or much rain.

  • johnny-boy

    Very well written Sully. Despite the dickhead comments from the trolls, ‘The Starch’ is a great nickname for AF actually and his apparently useless defence and attack was a significant factor in helping the Reds win the Super XV last year. How did your faves go last year boys ?
    And the Blues like a flock of seagulls is a terrifice similie and so accurate. I just hope the bastards dont think the Reds are pink lamingtons or it coud be pandemonium.

    • I just love the fact that people read these things John. I don’t care if they agree with me or not.

  • Dave

    Yep, good write up. I reckon the reds can take this one out but only if the Blues don’t “switch on” for an extended period of time. Their roster is scary talented. Although the one tonight does look a little less threatening. One of the great mysteries of rugby this season is that the blues haven’t gelled. But with every game so far there has been the expectation that they will and it’s just a matter of time. Let’s hope that it’s not tonight.

    Reds by 5.

    • I’m with you. Not tonight Auckland PLEASE!

  • chester

    I think it shows how desperate Reds fans have become- expecting Faingaa to return the Reds to the winners list.
    Faingaa is an ordinary player. Sure he pulls off some good tackles by rushing out of the line but this also exposes him to some glaring misses. He also gets his head on the wrong side sometimes in his haste- remember the World Cup
    The fact is the Reds forwards are getting bashed, they don’t have Cooper to pull a rabbit out of his arse and they are struggling with injuries.
    On Quade Cooper – Reds managment and his team mates must be fuming. The decision to organise a game of touch footy via Twitter, play and then reinjure his knee placing his comeback on hold for another 6 weeks highlights his stupidity

    • Muffy

      OK I will draw a picture for you with what AF brings to help you understand.


      1) Straightens, we have enough side stepping dancers, we need the straight runner in there
      2) He hits
      3) He hits, recovers, and turns into an oneside flanker and effects a turn over (this sucks in at least 3 opposing players
      4) Que the side steppers to take advantage of the gaps created by the third breakaway..
      5) Brings passion and inspiration to the side, currently desperate for it
      6) Always draws the attention of two defenders
      7) He hits

      Its not what he as an individual, more what he does in the context of the Reds.

      Thats why we love him

      (I have also met him a couple of times and he and his brother are very nice guys)

      • Brax

        Couldn’t have put it better myself Muffy, spot on!

        I really don’t know why troll “fans” from other teams seek out stories of other teams to spread their negative propaganda. I sure as hell have better things to do in my life.

      • matt

        AF was dropped by the Brumbies!!! Yet he’s the saviour of reds rugby? how crap are the reds?

        • Brax

          Wrong! Brumbies wanted to keep Ant but didn’t want his bro, they wanted to stay together & came to the Reds as a package deal. They have since gone on to represent their country & win a Super title.

        • johnny-boy

          How crap are the Reds ? Super XV champions. Choice.

      • Well said Muffy

    • Sully

      Chester, a couple of points.
      We happy to see Faingaa back for his defensive organisation more than anything. You guys can underestimate his impact as much as you like as far as I’m concerned.
      Coopers touch game was sanctioned by the Reds.

    • Dave

      On Quade, he was running again wasn’t he? I’m sure the reds management regret that he tweaked his knee again but I doubt they would be “fuming” because he did it playing touch. If not then he would have done it in training, in a game, or at the gym. He’s a rugby player coming back from a serious knee injury, of course there’ll be setbacks. I’m sure the reds would rather know this sooner than later no matter what the circumstances.

      On Faainga, his commitment in defence is unquestionable in both his organisation of players around him and in his determination. Do I wish other aspects of his game were better? Yes but his return will serve a purpose that may get the reds winning again. Especially if it’s an on the road win. His “starchy” presence is something the reds need. And please stop representing his mistakes as if they are habitual. All players make mistakes. I doubt Faainga’s are more common than any other player that purposefully gets himself involved as much as possible (another plus in my book).

    • johnny-boy

      Ever tried turning your bed around and getting out the other side in the morning Chester ?

  • Willy

    “Now I could break down and cry a bit like a Waratahs fan circa 2011 or I can realise that the guys have done pretty well in trying circumstances. And we are still in with a chance of playing finals this year.”

    Of course, the Waratahs did pretty well in trying circumstances, and DID play finals… so…

    • Brax

      ….. so……. WHAT!!!!

  • Robson

    1715 in Auckland right now and it hasn’t rained since around 0800 this morning. The sky was full of fluffy clouds, but they are starting to merge into a bit of a grey blanket. Rain come game time – a definite possiblity. So that’s the weather forecast out of the way, but the game forecast is a lot harder to make.

    For my money the Reds only have to do some very simple things right to win. They are (a) eliminate aimless kicking from their game – entirely, (b) maintain absolute accuracy in their pass catch game and (c) attack the tackle ball like a frenzied mass of killer bees…… and the opportunities will come. The Blues have a high error rate which improved against the Highlanders last week, but they tend to rush things at crucial times because they tend to think of themselves not the team. They actually have the firepower to really and truly put the Reds to the torch, but I don’t think they will.

    The Reds, on the other hand, don’t seem to know that all they have got to do is maintain possession and play a percentage game based on attacking the tackle ball and doing the simple things accurately. It’s not rocket science, but it will – in my humble opinion – win them the game tonight. Will they play like that though???? Something tells me that there is a hell of a good chance that they won’t.

    • Firstly thanks for the weather repost.

      Secondly these are easy things to say but it seems a lot harder to do. Fact is either team could easily win this if they get their act together.

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  • Dougs

    Ahh Sully, whilst your write ups give me the giggles, nothing amuses me more than your inability to keep out of the ensuing arguments.

    On a random note, Gill and Higginbotham have been in ridonculous form this year.

    Thank god Faingaa is back. The Reds have been leaking ~3 tries per game this year, that’s back to the dark days of pre-Link. Good to have our defensive lynch pin back.

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  • Davey

    We’re back baby….well sort of anyway.

    • Not as back as A Faingaa

      • Redman

        I told ya sully. I knew something was up with its out.. Good bye sanchez good bye reds.

        • If it’s true very sad news indeed

  • bill

    All the trash talk of how apparently ordinary Ant Faingaa is just warms my dark little heart. It reminds of another qld player that was supposed to be too slow and cumbersome, yet I well remember the schooling he gave to Matt Burke when Burke was supposed to be taking his wallaby jumper that year at out centre. One Daniel Herbert.

    I would never say Faingaa was as good as Herbert, but I get a similar chuckle when I see people write him off as they did Dan.

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Northern Provincial Rugby

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

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