Preview: Red v. Blue, One v. Two - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Preview: Red v. Blue, One v. Two

Preview: Red v. Blue, One v. Two

The Ballymore brains trust

No, it isn’t Bathurst weekend and Holden isn’t taking on Ford – it’s better than that. Forget conference standings: this is the overall number one and two SupeRugby teams playing off. It’s something of a finals preview for the fans, and for one of the teams it’s going to be a big confidence booster.

This season has been one of breakthroughs for the Reds. They have built on the momentum from last year and started making some history. They have nine wins from 11 starts, including a record streak of seven wins, making 2011 their most successful Super season in 15 years. They notched up their first win in Canberra. They now hold the Templeton Cup, after defeating their bogey team the Waratahs. There is probably only one big challenge that stands in their way before they face the finals, and that is beating a Kiwi team. This week they have another chance, but it won’t be easy, as they take on the table-topping Blues.

Link has made only one change to the team with Ben Tapuai coming into 12 for the injured Mike Harris. Taps gets his third cap for the Reds, and his first in his preferred position (his other two starts came at 13). At the team announcement he was definitely keen to let everyone know he was more comfortable there and looking forward to giving the opportunity a good shake.

Boric is back for more

As for the Blues, they haven’t been looking like world-beaters the last couple of weeks even though they have been chalking up the wins. They have been playing a game that involves coming out of the blocks hard and racking up a heap of points, then they appear to relax. While they have scored enough points to survive, it was a close thing against the resurgent Hurricanes (the last team to beat the Reds).

It will be interesting to see if the return of Luke McAlister will do anything for their structure. In accommodating McAlister at 12, the backs have stepped out one place with Benson Stanley going to 13 and Rene Ranger moving to the wing. Lachie Munro drops to the bench.

The Aucklanders’ forward pack has been bolstered by the return from a hamstring complaint of  Anthony Boric, who moves straight into the starting side to partner Ali Williams at lock. The pack suffers, though, for the loss of Jerome Kaino, who has taken over hamstring damage duties.

Key match-up: There are a few in this game. I would have loved to see Kaino v. Higgers, but that is not to be. It will be interesting to observe Mathewson v. Genia and the two centre pairings lining up. But I think the key clash will involve the two wingers with the roving commisions, Digby Ioane and Rene Ranger. It looks like it will be a clear night, conducive to both teams running the ball, and the injection of these two could be crucial to the outcome. Ranger has the ability to tear teams apart — a talent that Digby shares. Who can make the most of the opportunies created? Which one will more easily be stopped? There might even be some try celebrations to compare.

I see your turtle and raise you a turtle. Kind of.

Tip: It really is a tough one to call, and rightly so: these teams aren’t one and two on the ladder of this competition for any reason other than their capacity to play great, intense winning rugby. Normally a Reds home game sees them in the box seat, but we should remember that Blues are the last team to beat them in Brisbane. The Reds were looking a little less composed in their last outing against the Rebels, but that may be down to tiredness, this being the ninth game straight since their bye. All in all I think I am going to have to split them with the home team advantage, and though the potential is there for a score blowout, I think this is going to be a very close affair… the Reds by 5.

Reds: 15. Ben Lucas, 14. Luke Morahan, 13.  Anthony Faingaa, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Radike Samo, 7. Beau Robinson, 6. Scott Higginbotham, 5. James Horwill (c), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. James Slipper, 2. Saia Faingaa, 1. Ben Daley. Reserves: 16. James Hanson, 17. Guy Shepherdson, 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19. Jake Schatz, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Will Chambers, 22. Dom Shipperley.

Blues: 15. Jared Payne, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 13. Benson Stanley, 12. Luke McAlister, 11. Rene Ranger, 10. Stephen Brett, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Peter Saili, 7. Luke Braid, 6. Chris Lowrey, 5. Ali Williams, 4. Anthony Boric, 3. John Afoa, 2. Keven Mealamu, 1. Tevita Mailau. Reserves: 16. Tom McCartney, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. James King, 19. Sean Polwart, 20. Chris Smylie, 21. Lachie Munro, 22. Sherwin Stowers.

  • Kiap

    Want to see the Reds really lift for this big game and Ben Tapuai do well. He’s got some ability at 12. Yes, Blues are on top of the table but have been cruising somewhat. Abundance of talent, though. Hopefully the weather is clear and the game can live up to the match of the round billing.

  • Reddy!

    Good preview mate. Both line ups look strong – I didn’t realise Ali Williams was back fighting fit – the lineout set pieces should be a good contest with Horwill, Simmons, Williams and Boric all strong jumpers and lineout generals.

  • Westo

    WOW – I am excited.

    I was supposed to be in Brisbane for this game (From London), but decided to shift my tickets and take a risk position on the Reds making the semis. So I am heading home for the first semi weekend and finals weekend – seems like a gimme to me if they can win 3 of their last 5.

    However, I just looked over that Blues starting 15 and its strong. It would have been good to see Danny Braid out there for old time sake. But I am glad he’s not.

  • Lindommer

    One would hope Queensland and New South Wales work out some sort of sensible rules for the Templeton Cup. The Tahs held the cup going into 2011 and lead Queensland handsomely on the points difference table for this year’s matches after a win apiece; the cup should stay with the holders in a split series. On those two counts the Tahs could claim the Reds haven’t bested them this year.

    If only we could’ve claimed the Bledisloe in 1991 with the enthusiasm the Reds claim the Templeton!

    • I queried that before the game at Suncorp and it was agreed before hand by the unions that it would be played for on a match by match basis.

      Something about giving each game meaning and no dead rubbers.

    • suckerforred

      Tah’s supporter I presume?

    • drewprint


  • redbull

    A shit weekend if you are not in Brisbane. The Reds should pick up one game against either Blues or Crusaders to get 3 from 5 to finish season in the top spot (figure they may drop one more against Force, Chiefs or Brumbies). Will be a cracker anyway and just maybe a rehearsal for the final. Blues and Reds should finish 1-2 this year…..

    I will have to make sure I keep plans free on finals weekends in case I need to come back to Brissie (though it wouldn’t be as impressive as coming from London).

    Agree that Templeton Cup should be on aggregate points in the season and not each and every game. I am sure Tahs fans would feel the same if they held the cup from a one match win.

  • suckerforred

    GO THE REDS!!!!!!!!

    Bit peved that I will not be able to go, but hopefully the boys will play the Blues off the field.

    Having said that – Reds by 1.

    QC – If we are leading in the last 2 mins do not kick the ball to the opposition.

    • Pete

      This. Drove. Me. Nuts. Against the canes.

  • Jimbo81

    Reds by 25+

    • Westo

      You were right – but only for the 30th minute.

  • Win u bloody REDS

    they can win by half a point I dont cAre

  • Win u bloody REDS

    1 point will do

  • Tangawizi

    The atmosphere around my desk is electric with excitement…. Not long now to go now. Go the Reds!!!

  • bill

    My earliest memory of Qld rugby is as a child in the stands at Ballymore listening at halftime to some rather rude Scots address their deficiencies in some, let us say, unambiguos language. My next memory is of 1996. Auckland had put 50 past us the year b4. And in a truly epic game we put 50 past them. To this day that performance is my benchmark in what I desire from any team I support, Wallabies, Qld what have you. Well tonight we saw a game.

  • Pete

    Wasn’t able to watch the game, no Fox Sports at my place. Am totally, totally stoked, but not surprised, which might be the best bit.

    Would someone that watched please confirm/deny that Cooper “made several key tackles late in the match”. It came from Planet Rugby (a horror movie title if ever I heard one), so I’ll take it with a bag of salt until I hear confirmation from GAGR faithful…

    • suckerforred

      I think even one of the comentators said something alone the lines of – ‘Cooper makes the takle. Geez you don’t hear that said much.’

      Thank the god of red that he steped up!

  • bill

    Quade stood up. Proabably the only reason they’re remarking on it. I think Ben Lucas is playing himself onto the Wallabies bench though. Barring injury, light years ahead of Burgess. As good as Burgess can be on his day. One in a hundred though, still, better to be lucky than good.

    • Reds Fan 2011

      Bill you have to be kidding yeh? Ben Lucas is the most overrated player in the Qld side. Any player worth their salt would have scored the try he didn’t (just before Quade scored). He is rubbish. You can’t tell me he is better than a Matt Giteau…..I can’t believe I just put the 2 in the same sentence…. sorry Gits.

      But on Quade I think he had his best game. His defence was exceptional. I think the only thing he could have done was to put a drop goal over near fulltime when we were down there to put us completely out of reach.

  • ian preston

    Obvious forward pass in the lead up to the reds 1st try and again when they scored the 2nd.

  • Hamilton GLDER

    nuts there were no forward passess, No one said in commentary, no crowd reaction, no player reaction, just u a moaner, Kiwis are absolutely obsessed with foraward passess. On a happy note I sat in the zone bar in Hamilton and loved every minute. If they play that way when they come here 4 the chiefs I might just have to streak. Go u F^^%KING REDS. Blues played very well 2

  • ChurBro22

    Hats off to the Reds, they’ve def come of age! As a staunch KIWI rugby supporter, I can honestly say the Reds deserved that game! Proud that the blues came back and made a game of it but they were there own worst enemy!
    Forward pass or not bad ref call or not, fact for me was that the blues didn’t play eighty minute rugga, made far to many mistakes and against good teams u just can’t give them easy opportunities or they’ll take them!!
    Thought Digby had a strong game, ran well and kept Rocks quiet! It wasn’t an amazing performance but it was good!
    Stephen Brett is FCUKN USELESS!!! My nephew could tackle with more gusto then that BALL BAG! 2 Reds tries came from his Pussy Weak defense! Charge down was crucial as the tide was turning up until then!!
    Pat Lam, use yr brain, watch the tape and piss Brett off preferably to Japan or Russia! It also doesn’t help with Morons playing in your side! AKA Ali Williams… Come on down!! Been a fan of Ali Williams for a number of years he has been v good in da past, but last night wasn’t one of them! What a dum ass, in my opinion he gave away 9 points with his Moron like play, 3 costly penalty’s that QC easily stepped up and booted them!
    Yes I can only blame my KIWI team for the loss… VERY DISAPPOINTED!!!!!

    • Bullrush

      Not too much to argue with their BUT….

      I’m not hugely upset with the loss. If the score had remained similar to what it was in the first 30min then I would have been seriously gutted but we took 2 bonus points away and we had Woodcock, Kaino, Dan Braid and Benson Stanley out. Not to mention Toeava….but he won’t be back so there’s no point dwelling on that.

      With the other four back, I think we are a serious shot at taking the whole thing out this year…..Toeava will be seriously missed though.

      • ChurBro22

        So true Bullrush, stoked with the 2 points have a feeling they will be vital in weeks to come!
        Still looked good in patches even without a few quality players! Seems to be the trend that the franchises with the mist complete overall squad are doing well! So many teams with players out for various injuries! At least that breeds in new blood at 15’s level!
        Fingers crossed Toeava will be right come WC, missed his injection for the
        Blues! Chur bro..

    • Jay

      Dude, the pass from Genia to Higginbotham for the Reds second try was so far forward it was offside.

      • Jay

        Oops, that reply was to Hamilton Glider.

        • BloodRed

          Oops you spelt his name wrong but perhaps that is just your vision issues. None of the QLD tries came from forward passes. You Jaffas are just as bad as the Tahs with your expectations for victory. Your whining is taking the gloss off what was an absolute ball tearer of a game that lived up to and beyond the pregame hype. Both teams in it till the end, length of the field attack and ferocious defence. At least the Blues themselves are more gracious in defeat than their supporters.

        • Jay

          I’m from Wellington, dumbarse.

          One of the forward passes that lead to a try was for the Blues, by the way.

          But the Genia pass to Higgenwhatever was blatant. Have a look, Genia is actually behind him WHEN he passes, and Higgenrosenpenis is basically through the gap when he catches the pass. It wasn’t the deciding factor in the match, cause the Reds were on fire and still would have racked up a lead regardless. And if they hadn’t, they probably wouldn’t have gone to sleep at the end of the half.

          But there were still some poor calls.

        • BloodRed

          From Wellington hey? That explains why you’re bitter

        • Jay

          If I was bitter, I’d be bitter at the Blues who we lost to. Unlike the Reds.

  • Zeno

    the potential is there for a score blowout, I think this is going to be a very close affair… the Reds by 5.

    68 points scored and the margin was 6… nice tipping mate!

    • Every now and then I fluke it.

  • cheese

    Yep. Actually there were two forward passes. The higginbotham try and also the pass from cooper to lucas just prior to the first try. Actually I dont make it a habit to dwell on such things but as a kiwi supporter we are constantly been told of referee mistakes when australian sides lose.

  • boohoo tou


    • Jay

      Seriously – look at the pass at 4:12. It’s MILES forward. Look at the ground markings, Genia is standing on the line that marks 5 metres in from touch. When he passes the ball, his hands would be about on the end of that line and when Higgan’s Bottom catches it he’d be at least 2 feet past that line (and Genia is moving backwards so no momentum argument please).

      If you can watch that replay and still think it’s not forward, you’d win some sort of award for being a one-eyed fan.

      The pass to Lucas is at 1:12 and also looks forward, though not as obvious.

    • Jay

      Should probably give you the link….

      • Tangawizi

        Higginbotham is in line with where Genia threw the pass when he catches it. That in my view makes it a flat pass, which is clearly a view shared by the match officials.

        You’re claim that he 2 feet in front is a nonsense. Pause the video at 4:10 at the moment he catches the ball. He is in line with the end of the line marking the 5m. That where Genia threw the pass from. The sideline official is also directly in line with the pass. If it was 2 feet, he would have seen it. He has viewed the pass from the best possible angle (better than anyone watching on tv or youtube) and decided it was not forward. I agree with him.

        What award do I win? A red Pirate’s eye-patch? Are you just going to paint over the top of your blue one?

        • Jay

          Seriously? You’re gonna say “The touch judge thought it was ok?”. Cause officials have never made a mistake in their lives?

          Unreal. Yeah, you win a red eye patch with “I heart Quade” written on it. I’ll post it over, and try not to double post.

      • Tangawizi

        Did you actually watch the clip you posted the link to? I mean actually clearly focus on the path of the pass in question or were you too determined to have a rant to actually analyse what occured?

        Genia is standing on the end of the line that marks the 5m when he passes the ball but then he continues to drop backwards. He ends up 2 feet behind where he passed the ball from.

        Higginbotham is moving forward. If you pause the clip at 4:10 at the point where he catch the ball, he is in line with the end of the line that Genia passed the ball from. He is not 2 feet in front of that line as you claim.

        Higginbotham receiving the pass in line with where Genia passed the ball from makes it a flat pass. Flat is not forward. This view was obviously shared by the sideline official as it all happened about 5m in front of him.

        Now about that prize I’ve won? Is a red eye-patch? If so, don’t worry about posting it over as I’ve got a few spares in the draw already…

        • Jay

          Seriously? Cause refs don’t ever make mistakes?

          Yes, you win an eye patch. But I’m not giving you two just cause you double posted.

  • chur

    Tena pai

  • dingo

    Jay at least u aint a nut like on the allblacks website. hard to have discussion there . I swear they have a book of kiwi slang and they just type them in. Good old nationalism.

Queensland Reds

Steve Timms, He likes watching the odd game of Rugby, occasionally writes about it.. Proud member of the original Mudchooks.

More in Queensland Reds