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

Preview: Reds v Force

Preview: Reds v Force

The local derbies in the Australian conference have actually produced some bloody decent content this year. Something that would be more widely acknowledged if the sceptics would just remove their turd-coloured glasses for 90 minutes. This match up, perhaps the local derby with the loosest definition of the word ‘local’, can hopefully step up to the plate and deliver more entertaining rugby.

Finals Context

Both teams theoretically can still make the finals but, given neither gained points last weekend, are really dependant on the Brumbies and Waratahs choking at the business end of the season.

The Force currently sit on 13 points, ten points behind the conference leading Brumbies, and just three points behind the Reds. Once the boys from the West get through this trip, they can settle in back at home for the final three matches against the Hurricanes, Rebels and Waratahs.

The Reds split the remainder of the season with two home and two away. Following Friday night’s encounter, they will travel to Samoa to play the Blues, then back home to host the Brumbies before finishing up across the dutch to play the Highlanders.

Neither is an easy route.

Lukhan Tui is congratulated on his first Super Rugby try

Reds celebrations have been rare this year.


The Force have developed into a bit of a bogey team for the Reds of late and in fact the Reds have only tasted success two of their last nine games against them. The second round win by the Force (26-19 in Perth) shook both teams up and had many Force fans predicting they could shake things up in the Australian conference. As it turned out, neither would win again until they each played the Kings on consecutive weekends in April.

Recent Form

The Reds have won two and lost two in their last four games with wins over the Kings at home (Rnd 8), and the Rebels away (Rnd 12) bookending a pair of losses to the Tahs at home (Rnd 10) and the Chiefs away (Rnd 11). With two byes in that same period, the team should be well rested.

The Force have won just once out of their last four, a memorable 16-6 away win against the Jaguares in the midst of losses to the Lions at home (Rnd 10), the Sharks away (Rnd 11) and then another home loss to the Highlanders last weekend (Rnd 13).

Aki Seieiuli - double try scorer prop

It wasn’t pretty for the Force last weekend.

Team News

There have been a heap of changes to the Force for the Reds, understandable given their 55-6 capitulation to the Highlanders.  Most significantly is the return of their inspirational leader Matt Hodgson at openside for Brynard Stander. There are big changes elsewhere in the pack too with Wallaby front rowers Tatafu Polota-Nau and Pek Cowan benched and replaced by Club Captain, Heath Tessmann, and the departing Francois van Wyk respectively.

Matt Philip, who was superb in that Round 2 clash, and Isireli Naisarani have also been promoted from the reserves coming in for Richards, Arnold and Hardwick.  In the backs, Michael Ruru starts at scrumhalf for the injured Ian Prior while further out James Verity-Amm and Marcel Brache replace Semise Masirewa and Luke Morahan.

The week off has meant the Reds are less injury troubled with just the one change to their starting side from their last win against the Rebels. Campbell Magnay misses out on the wing spot due to concussion concerns. His spot is taken by Chris Kuridrani with Izia Perese in Georgia with the Australian Under 20s. Also in Georgia is usual back up flyhalf, Hamish Stewart, meaning both Jake McIntyre and Lachlan Maranta earning a reprieve. Maranta’s selection is particularly deserving given strong club form of late.

Player Match-Ups

Matt Hodgson & George Smith

Respect your elders. While the youngsters running around for both teams this weekend I am sure will give their all, I hope they get the chance to appreciate the contest between these two ‘elder’ statesman. Both are an absolute credit to the game and their families – outstanding individuals and players. Not much more needs to be said about either player, but all involved in the game in this country should appreciate the quality of the match up.

Isi Naisarani pushes Matt Hodgson forward to score.

Hodgo – leading from the front.

Duncan Paia’aua and Billy Meakes

With tremendous uncertainty around who wears the Wallaby 12 jersey, coach Michael Cheika will be watching this contest with interest. Neither are likely first choice, but both were involved in the Wallaby love-in earlier in the season. Meakes will be determined to put behind him his inauspicious captaincy debut last week, while Duncan is there to provide that calming hand outside Quade Cooper. The two have very different styles of play but each have been critical in their respective teams’ best moments this season.


I’m tipping the refreshed Reds to take this one out against an increasingly pressured Force. Hodgson has already come out and suggested the players are struggling with the off-field turmoil so the stress is building. The Reds will need to withstand a fired up outfit early, but if they can control their discipline and 2nd half focus, the match is theirs for the taking. Reds by 12.

Duncan Paia'aua gets a clearance kick away

Duncan Paia’aua kicking on.

Match Details


1. Sef Fa’agase
2. Stephen Moore
3. Sam Talakai
4. Rob Simmons
5. Lukhan Tui
6. Hendrik Tui
7. George Smith
8. Scott Higginbotham
9. Nick Frisby
10. Quade Cooper
11. Eto Nabuli
12. Duncan Paia’aua
13. Samu Kerevi [c]
14. Chris Kuridrani
15. Karmichael Hunt

16. Alex Mafi
17. Kirwan Sanday
18. Taniela Tupou
19. Izack Rodda
20. Adam Korczyk
21. James Tuttle
22. Jake McIntyre
23. Lachlan Maranta


1. Francois van Wyk
2. Heath Tessmann
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Matt Philip
5. Adam Coleman
6. Ross Haylett-Petty
7. Matt Hodgson [c]
8. Isireli Naisarani
9. Michael Ruru
10. Peter Grant
11. Alex Newsome
12. Bill Meakes
13. Curtis Rona
14. James Verity-Amm
15. Marcel Brache

16. Tatafu Polota-Nau
17. Pek Cowan
18. Tetera Faulkner
19. Richie Arnold
20. Richard Hardwick
21. Mitchell Short
22. Luke Burton
23. Luke Morahan

Match Details

Date: Friday, 26 May 2017

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Kick-off: 5:45 pm AWST, 7:45 pm AEST

Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

Assistant referees:
Rohan Hoffmann (Aus), Jordan Way (Aus)

TMO: Damian Mitchelmore (Aus)

  • Nipper68

    Nice write-up, Reg – especially the section on Smith vs. Hodgo.

    I’d say the Force have the advantage in the forwards and the Reds the advantage in the backs. Which would make one think that the Force will make an almighty stink at the breakdown to to prevent the Reds from getting that good, clean, fast ball that Quade needs. However, I do wonder why there’s only one reserve back-rower on the bench, especially since Hodgo is coming off an injury.

    Given the rested Reds, home game, you’re probably right in tipping the Reds, but 12 seems like a stretch. Given the history (2 from 9!), it wouldn’t be a shock to see Hodgo lead the Force to bounce back and win it, either.

  • Adrian

    Yes, good write up.
    Inside centre battle interesting.
    They definitely do have different styles, BUT, both can play flat (even though they normally don’t)… which is what Cheika prefers, and the way Beale will play in the RC.
    One or both just might get a go in June, though the safe option is Hodge.
    Force look like they’ll challenge Reds in the forwards for 80 minutes, and hope it works

  • AllyOz

    On paper the Reds would appear to have it but that’s rarely proved a safe method for selecting them this year. I think the recent travel for the Force and the fact that the Reds are well rested might be the most significant point. I would have to agree with Reg though that the remainder of the season looks particularly difficult for the Reds so it probably doesn’t matter a lot in terms of Aussie Conference places. In any case, past form would suggest that whoever makes it to the finals will get bounced first round so let’s just enjoy this for what it is.

    • AllyOz

      Well appears the rest meant f*&^ all. Well done Force – deserved to win. Poor discipline seems the Reds biggest problem. Hard to play with one less man for 25% of the game.

  • Adrian

    If 22 of the 33 Wallaby squad members are “locked in” (my guess) then there are a few spots up for grabs for guys like Lukhan Tui, Philip, Nabulli, All 8 props are competing for 1 spot. Simmons needs a very good game. Both No 12s a chance.
    If Hunt goes ok he is in

    • RugbyReg

      Hunt should be a confirmed member already. He’d be my starting 15 in fact.

    • McWarren

      What is your confirmed 22 Adrian, I reckon/hope there are a few bolters in the squad this year, not just for the June tests?

      • Adrian

        22 “certainties” for June:
        Kepu, Sio, Alaalatoa, Robertson, Latu, TPN, Coleman, Arnold, Skelton, Fardy, Hooper, McMahon, Timani, Genia, Phipps, Foley, Kerevi, Kurandrani, Hodge, Speight, Folau, Hunt

        Moore a near certainty, as is Simmons. They can play themselves out this weekend. DHP would be certainty if fit. Beale certain for RC

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