Preview: Crusaders v Reds - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Preview: Crusaders v Reds

Preview: Crusaders v Reds

Surprise, surprise – the Reds big win over the Sunwolves a couple of rounds ago meant absolutely nothing the following week when they hosted the Sharks.  Only an idiot (me) would think otherwise.  The Reds (and their fans) were bought back to earth big time with a resounding Sharks defeat, placing the South Africans now atop their conference ladder. Unfortunately it now means that the Reds now have to travel away from the cracked ‘fortress’ that is Suncorp Stadium and face the Crusaders, who sit atop their conference and have had little difficulty accounting for this Queensland team over recent years.

The Reds have based so much of their ‘rebuild’ on the Crusaders model, none least than their Head Coach.  But are they any chance of student surpassing the master Friday night in Christchurch? Let’s take a look to find out.


There is nothing starker here than the Opta Stats compiled for this game.

  • The Crusaders have won 18 of their last 21 Super Rugby matches against the Reds, including each of their last seven in a row.
  • The Crusaders are unbeaten in their last 33 home games (winning 32 with one draw), a run that began at the beginning of 2017.
  • The Reds will be searching for their first Super Rugby win in New Zealand since April 2013 (v the Chiefs) and have lost 14 consecutive games by an average margin of 19 points since.

So….it’s not looking good…


The last time the Reds beat the Crusaders – seriously!

Key Match Ups:

Reds v the 2nd Half: So far this season, across their five games, the Reds have lead at half time in all but one game (v the Lions in Round 2, when they trailed by four points).  And yet they have only gone on to win a single game – the shellacking of the Sunwolves.  In fact, again according to Opta, the Reds have scored more tries in the first half of games this season than any other team.  Which is meaningless if you are sitting at 1 and 4.  So clearly this unit needs to up their second half performance.  Whether it be the coach talk at half time; the impact of the bench; the team’s fitness; their mental toughness; their inability to restart a game, whatever, it needs immediate attention.

Dallas McLeod, Leicester Faingaanuku, Ere Enari, Tom Christie, Cullen Grace v us. This is the next batch of Crusader rookies. McLeod is making his debut, Enarie played one game a few years ago and hasn’t played since, Faingaanuku played last year while Christie and Grace have made their first Super Rugby appearances this year.  It’s these lads that will set the standard for the Cruaders. Sure there is class across the park, but it’s how they bring in their youngsters that sets them apart.  Clearly Harry Wilson has been a standout for the Reds this year, but the support structure around these stars is what Reds rugby really craves.

Team News


It’s all in the halves this week with James O’Connor ruled out with an ankle injury.  It sees Isaac Lucas get another shot at the 10 jersey for the first time since Round 1 v the Brumbies. Instead of partnering with the inform Tate McDermott, as he did that game, McDermott has being curiously benched with Scott Maloula getting a rare starting cap.  In the pack, the lock shuffle continues with Izack Rodda the man out this round, with Harry Hockings and Lukhan Salakai-Loto pairing up.


The Cru welcome back their skipper in All Black Scott Barrett who starts in at lock with Luke Romano on the bench.  There’s some All Black shuffling outwide with George Bridge moved to fullback, enabling Faingaanuku a start on the flank, and Jack Goodhue moves to outcentre with McLeod earning a debut. Enarie is the third relatively experienced backline promotion, taking the starting nine jersey from Mitch Drummond.

Courtney Hodder scores

Courtney Hodder was sensational for the Reds in their Super W win over the Rebels last week, but won’t play against the Crusaders with her male counterparts. Instead she and her team mates will take on the Waratahs at Ballymore on Saturday afternoon!


Let’s not dick around here.  Crusaders by 24.



1 Joe Moody

2 Codie Taylor

3 Michael Alaalatoa

4 Scott Barrett ©

5 Mitchell Dunshea

6 Cullen Grace

7 Tom Christie

8 Tom Sanders

9 Ere Enari

10 Richie Mo’unga

11 Leicester Faingaanuku

12 Dallas McLeod

13 Jack Goodhue

14 Sevu Reece

15 George Bridge


16 Brodie McAlister

17 George Blower

18 Oliver Jager

19 Luke Romano

20 Sione Havili

21 Mitchell Drummond

22 Brett Cameron

23 Manasa Mataele


1 JP Smith

2 Alex Mafi

3 Taniela Tupou

4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

5 Harry Hockings

6 Angus Scott-Young

7 Liam Wright ©

8 Harry Wilson

9 Scott Malolua

10 Isaac Lucas

11 Henry Speight

12 Hamish Stewart

13 Hunter Paisami

14 Chris Feauai-Sautia

15 Jock Campbell


16 Ed Craig

17 Dane Zander

18 Josh Nasser

19 Angus Blythe

20 Fraser McReight

21 Tate McDermott

22 Bryce Hegarty

23 Filipo Daugunu


Date: Friday 6 March 2020
Venue: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-Off: 7.05pm local time /  4:05pm Brisbane time
Referee:  Rasta Rasivhenge
AR1: Mike Fraser
AR2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Shane McDermott

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Good preview. And yeah, I think the Reds are stuffed.

  • Simon

    Rasta on the whistle. Wow, it’s almost like neutral refs ARE possible in Super Rugby games?!

    • Geoffro

      is that how SANZAAR addresses controversy,by sending the most incompetent ref in world rugby to NZ for this game.They should just keep him in SA to bugger up local derbies

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        What rubbish. Rasta is a top class referee, one of the best in the world and certainly one of the best in super rugby, if not the very best.

        • Geoffro

          Thanks for yanking my chain , now I can get about my daily chores

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Nah, I actually think he is class. Makes decisions confidently without referring everything to the TMO, when he has to refer things makes decisions promptly, policies the breakdown much better than most and is accurate on the scrums.

        • Geoffro

          You make a compelling argument but nah, I dont rate him.

        • Huw Tindall

          His home town stats weren’t good in the famous GAGR analysis but it’s a neutral game this time so who knows!

        • Funk

          I thought he was a pretty good ref (up there with the best), right up until I wathced a coulpe of his “home town ref” games which changed my mind. As a neutral ref though, I think/hope he will be fine.

  • idiot savant

    No rose coloured glasses in your preview Reg. I hope Thorn pins it to the dressing room wall as motivation.

    If every team plays like the Sharks the game of rugby will die. That was the most unattractive spectacle I have seen for a while. I take my hat off to the Sharks strategists. It was an utterly brilliant negative game plan that worked a treat. They tried to disrupt every defensive breakdown, often illegally, and followed that by mostly offside line speed in defence, creating nothing but slow ball for the Reds and nullifying their attack. Referee Peckerill was onto them and repeatedly penalised them but wasn’t prepared to go to yellow cards for repeat efforts. This combined with the Reds appalling line outs meant that the Reds couldn’t take advantage of the penalties and they fully deserved to lose.

    The Sharks negative ploys continued at scrum time. In order to prevent the Reds pushing them backwards they brought the scrum to ground very early and then in the second half started not taking the weight hoping for an early shove penalty. Again Peckerill was on to them and again the Reds were unable to take advantage of the penalties because their line out is a basket case. Force the Reds to kick for touch and they lose all advantage.

    Yet with the Reds utter hopelessness at the line out they were only 5 points down after 70 minutes and 2 disallowed tries, so they weren’t outclassed by one of the form teams of the comp. They could be so much better with some good coaching.

    If the Reds can fix their line out, they will be competitive. As far as I know Thorn is the line out coach. The stats clearly show that the line out has been a weakness since he took over from Stiles. If maul defence is Thorn as well, the biggest problem in the Reds is directly coached by Thorn. Lillicrap coaches the scrum which is clearly successful. Mackay coaches the backs and as they proved against the Jags they are a threat. If the Reds are to progress Thorn has to sack himself as lineout coach. Has the toughest guy in football got the balls to do that?

    In the meantime, I expect every side that plays the Reds to form mauls from their line out throw ins. I reckon the Cru would have spent the week doing it. The Reds let in 4 maul tries against the Jags. Whats the odds this gets beaten on Friday?

    • AllyOz

      “I hope Thorn pins it to the dressing room wall for motivation” Initially I thought that would be curious given it would be on a laptop or an ipad. But then I got the mental picture of Thorn’s massive fist driving a stake through a laptop and I thought… actually that works.

      • idiot savant

        Yeah sorry. Im from the era of paper. Ask your grandpa what it is.

        • AllyOz

          I was born the year before the summer of love so I suspect it’s the same era IS.

  • Reds Revival

    I’d like to share IS’s optimistic pessimism, but even I can’t bring myself to it for this game.
    I don’t think that they will get hammered by 24 points, and I actually think that their lineout and maul defense will be considerably better. However, that’s as far as my optimism will take me.
    All I hope for this game is improvement in the key areas of lineout, maul, and second half performance.

    • idiot savant

      Psychologically you have got my number RR. I am indeed an optimistic pessimist. Expect the worst and you will never be disappointed. There is hope in that…

    • Jason

      Settle down. Reds defense has been very good, Also keep in mind they were really in the game against the COMP LEADING Sharks. They got down over in South African and Argentina. So the Reds are hardly mugs even if their competition position reflects that.

      • Geoffro

        They are chock full of raw talent.Sadly gotta admit something is seriously amiss in the coaching department

        • Jason

          I don’t think we can say that yet. In my opinion at minimum Thorn has done an outstanding job developing our young talent. I don’t think this crop of players have been particularly good going in — none of our players are particularly freakishly good. Given that I think at worst we can say Thorn has done an very good to outstanding job developing our players.

          I do agree he probably doesn’t manage his bench as well as I’d like, I’m not entirely sure Thorn is good enough tactically but that’s hard to know with such a developing team.

        • Geoffro

          I reckon hes gone well identifying the talent but developing it to a great extent ? I dont know why he wants Lucas at 10 for a start,hes a fullback and guys ike Hocking.Blyth,Tupou,McReight,Wright are outstanding prospects and shoud be Thorns bread and butter to mentor given his previous experience but arent playing to their potential Id say

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        That’s certainly one narrative. Another is the Reds were comprehensively outplayed from the 20 minute mark at home against a team that has been on the road for a month and only beaten weak teams.

  • The Reds, for my money, tend to play better than it looks until their replacements come on, then play worse than it looks.

    Their real problem this week? They’re effectively starting with a replacement at 10. And, barring that hiccough against the Chiefs, they’re playing one of the class sides of the tournament who manage their youngsters with aplomb and have starters who are dripping AB caps like they’re going out of fashion.

    That combination makes me worry that a 24 point margin might be generous to the Reds…

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      The Reds sucked from about halftime against the Brumbies also. They just seem to get worse after half time every match.

      • Possibly. I thought the Sharks adjusted somewhat, but the Reds started to suffer as soon as JOC was substituted just after half time too, at which point it just continued to accelerate away from them into the game they could never catch up with.

        Maybe I’m being unduly forgiving of the Reds in general but it still seems to me that the rot starts when Thorn goes to his bench rather than in the 40th minute. Unfortunately that’s often a bit earlier than you’d like and if often adds up to a bad 25 minutes or so. This time it was a bad 30-35 minutes.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I actually thought the Shorts were well on top from about the 25 minute mark from memory. Thought the Reds were very lucky to go into half time with the led. But I agree they got. worse the more substitutions they made.

  • AllyOz

    Not sure entirely why they would pick this game to rest Rodda. I would have thought that this is the weekend you want your best possible side on the field to start and Rodda has to be in that. Similar argument with McDermott though maybe, after the side suffers when a weaker bench comes on after half time they have gone with the logic, lets start the bench players and then we’ll get an improvement after half time, which is a little flawed but hey….

    • Reds Revival

      Rodda has a calf strain. It will be interesting to see when Thorn decides plays Rodda and LSL together.
      I just hope they don’t put Nasser on. Great hands, but completely out of his depth at SR level.

  • Keith Butler

    Looking forward to great days entertainment. I reckon the Moondogs will get blasted and both the Reds and Tahs will go down. Hope I wrong though.

    • Hoss

      You need to work on your bedside manner.

      • Keith Butler

        Well I’ve got one right unless the Dogs perform the comeback of the century.

  • McWarren

    I think moving Tate and possibly Isaac to the bench will help with the second half fade. But still don’t see us getting up in this one.

  • Keith Butler

    Looking forward to the clash upfront. To me Tupou has been pretty quiet and it will be interesting to see how he goes against the old campaigner aka cheating bastard Joe Moody. A nice matchup.

  • Hoss

    Reds by 1.

    • Yowie

      I reckon by the 32 minute mark it will be 10 – 10.

      • Hoss

        Hey – I am Hosstradamus here thanks..

        I will predict Jock Campbell and his inability to hit the side of a barn with a shotgun could rob them of a famous victory.

  • MungBean

    For f*cks sakes!!!

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

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