Preview: Reds vs Bulls - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Preview: Reds vs Bulls

Preview: Reds vs Bulls

The Reds horror draw to start the season is behind them now and they are back home to start the road to redemption against the Bulls from Pretoria, South Africa.  Fortune typically favours the home team in this match up but both teams are absolutely desperate for a win so this may be the match where it actually favours the brave.  Who has the edge leading into this game?  Read on to find out…


Both teams are sitting on just one win for the season.  The Reds with 5 losses and the Bulls, having already enjoyed a bye, only have 4 losses.  Thanks to a bunch of spirited losing bonus points though the Reds sit comfortably in the middle of the Australian conference while the Bulls are second last in theirs.  It could be argued though (and you know I will) that the Reds having endured the far tougher draw to date (trips to South Africa, South America and played the defending champs at their home ground) are arguably in better form than the Bulls who up until this match, hadn’t left South Africa.  It has to be said though that the Bulls are coming off a big win against the Highlanders so if we were looking at trend lines they might paint a different picture.

In terms of the head to head, in the 22 times these two teams have met, the Reds have won 12 and the Bulls 10.  In all but 3 of these matches, the win has gone the way of the home side.  The Bulls have won once in Brisbane and the Reds twice in Pretoria.

Key Match Ups:

Dane Zander vs Trevor Nyakane & Taniela Tupou vs Lizo Gqoboka:  The Reds scrum started off as the weapon it has been in recent years but for some reason, whilst still being very strong, they are struggling to simply dominate opposition scrums like they can.  The Bulls scrum has been excellent so far and let’s be honest, it’s been a traditional strong point for them.  The scrum success according to Opta Stats rates the Bulls unit (95%) just ahead of the Reds (90%).  What is worrying though is that our tighthead, Taniela Tupou is the most penalised (9) player in the competition.  I know a lot of his penalties come from general play but still, having a penalty magnet in the front row could be all it takes to sway a few 50/50 calls the Bulls way.  Added to this, JP being crook, and as much as I like young Zander, he has a tough night ahead packing down against Trevor Nyakane.  I’m worried the Bulls might have the edge here.

Against the Bulls in 2018 the Reds scrum was a weapon

Against the Bulls in 2018 the Reds scrum was a weapon

Their kicker vs our kicker: Time to be brutally honest.  Our goal kicking has been a disaster this season.  We kicked precisely 0% of our goals last week which is bad enough, but when you consider that if we kicked them we would have beaten the defending champs in their own backyard, you start to get a picture of just how bad it is.  Against a team like the Bulls who have names like Morne Steyn on their team sheet (on the bench I know), Missed. Kicks. Will. Hurt. Us.

Team News


The curse of the Reds 13 jersey continues with Hunter Paisami ruled out for a month.  Chris Feauai-Sautia has been shifted in from the wing as expected but that’s where the unsurprising selections stop.  Bryce Hegarty will start on the wing which means Jock Campbell retain his fullback spot.  You can’t blame them for not wanting to change Jock’s role in any way but still, Bryce is a more than capable full back and Jock was excellent on the wing last season.  My best guess is that the Reds will look to play a dual fullback style game to counter the Bulls kicking and field position tactics.  But really, who knows.  James O’Connor is making a return to the 10 Jersey to round out the backs ins and outs.  In the forwards, scrum weapon, JP Smith, is unavailable due to illness which has handed Dane Zander his first Super Rugby start.  Also a late scratching of Josh Nasser potentially gives QLD Schoolboys (2010) Jack Straker his Super Rugby debut off the bench.


The Bulls have elected to make only one change to their 23 that thumped the Highlanders last weekend.  They welcome back their captain, Burger Odendaal who will slot back in at inside centre and Kotze moving out to outside centre.  Nafi Tuitavake was the unlucky one to be left at home to make way for Odendaal.


I think the Reds would have been expecting to be in a better position on the ladder at this fixture with a couple of could-have-been wins slipping away from them.  Season in the balance or not though, this would have been one they would have marked down as a win from day one.  Some injury forced substitution in the back line will test them but I’m tipping the Reds to be too strong for the Bulls.  Reds by 10.


St George QLD Reds

1 Dane Zander

2 Alex Mafi

3 Taniela Tupou

4 Angus Blythe

5 Harry Hockings

6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

7 Liam Wright (c)

8 Harry Wilson

9 Scott Malolua

10 James O’Connor

11 Henry Speight

12 Hamish Stewart

13 Chris Feauai-Sautia

14 Bryce Hegarty

15 Jock Campbell


16 Ed Craig

17 Harry Hoopert

18 Jack Straker

19 Angus Scott-Young

20 Fraser McReight

21 Tate McDermott

22 Isaac Lucas

23 Filipo Daugunu


1 Lizo Gqoboka

2 Jaco Visagie

3 Trevor Nyakane

4 Ian Groenewald

5 Ruan Nortje

6 Marco Van Staden

7 Josh Strauss

8 Muller Uys

9 Embrose Papier

10 Manie Libbok

11 Rosko Specman

12 Burger Odendaal (c)

13 Johnny Kotze

14 Cornal Hendricks

15 Warrick Gelant


16 Corniel Els

17 Gerhard Steenkamp

18 Wiehahn Herbst

19 Ryno Pieterse

20 Ruan Steenkamp

21 Ivan Van Zyl

22 Morne Steyn

23 Divan Rossouw


Date:   Saturday 14 March 2020
Venue:   Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-Off:   6:15pm AEST
Referee:    Mike Fraser
AR1:   Rasta Rasivhenge
AR2:   Graham Cooper
TMO:   George Ayoub


  • Nutta

    I think JP has to go the distance as i am reticent to see Hoopert go out against their scrum. We need Tupou to stop being that open-field penalty magnet. He seems to suffer from a type of one-step-too-far syndrome so if he just plateau’d a bit his overall impact would be so much greater. For me, the Reds are a far better attacking outfit so if they can even get parity at set-piece (which they really should dominate IMO) then they should skip away with it.

    Mike Fraser – NZ referee?

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Yep. Refereed with him a few years ago. A top bloke actually.

    • Ross

      I tend to agree Nutta. Hoopert finished the season well last year and had really grown as a scrummager. Not sure what happened in the off season (injury maybe?) but he seems to have regressed based on the limited minutes I saw of him. Hopefully it’s just a bit of rust and he will bounce back if needed because we can’t keep relying on all 3 of our front row to play such big minutes

  • RobC

    Thanks Reg. I have a feeling the Bulls will start to click from here on. I believe re kicking options (from the hand) Filipo is quite good if I recall correct.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Ross. Paisami will be a big loss and i think it’s time for JOC to move to 12 as while he’s doing ok at 10, it really isn’t his position. I’m with Nutta on Tupou needing to step up and stop being a dick who gives away penalties. TBF to him the whole team needs to step up on the discipline side. Not only in not giving away penalties but also in continuing the game plan through to the end instead of switching off at half time. I hope they go well and a win should be on the cards, however if they revert then it could get ugly

    • Ross

      You’re welcome! :-) Paisami is a huge loss. When you consider the scale of the Petaia chat pre-season and since his injury there’s been little to no bemoaning such is the impact of his replacement, you start to get an indication. It worries me that possibly our most injury prone player is likely to be wearing the Red 13 next too.

    • idiot savant

      Remove Stewart from 12 at your peril. He offers more in whole of game contributions than JOC in that position. And at this stage JOC offers more at 10 than Lucas.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        I’m not so sure but I think JOC’s lack of a kicking game is hurting the Reds. Maybe the option is someone else at 10 and JOC on the bench

  • John Tynan

    My prediction is that we hear “Mike, it’s George here. I have a {insert dubious call here} for you to look at.” at least three times.

    • Bernie Chan

      George likes to chip in whenever he can…

  • Reds Revival

    The team has just been announced;
    1. Dane Zander
    2. Alex Mafi
    3. Taniela Tupou
    4. Angus Blyth
    5. Harry Hockings
    6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
    7. Liam Wright (c)
    8. Harry Wilson
    9. Scott Malolua
    10. James O’Connor
    11. Henry Speight
    12. Hamish Stewart
    13. Chris Feauai-Sautia
    14. Bryce Hegarty
    15. Jock Campbell

    16. Ed Craig
    17. Harry Hoopert
    18. Jack Straker*
    19. Angus Scott-Young
    20. Fraser McReight
    21. Tate McDermott
    22. Isaac Lucas
    23. Filipo Daugunu

    Personally, I would have had Jock on the wing and Hegarty a fullback, but not a big deal, as long as Hegs has the speed to mark his man properly. The reserve front row looks a bit light on with Hoopert, but at least they didn’t throw Nasser to the wolves. It will also be interesting to see how the two young second rowers combine.

    • idiot savant

      I suspect they will swap around. Jock will play 15 in attack and Hegs will play 15 in defence and vice versa.

      On LSL I dont get why there cant be diversity in the row and 6. Theres no reason why a 5 and 6 cant swap phase roles. Sixes are expected to carry but theres no reason why LSL as a 5 cant carry in attack and rest in defence and the the 6 clean in attack and ruck monkey in defence. LSL played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play against the Cru in the row – carrying in attack and cleaning in defence. I fear we are one ruck monkey short with all that tall timber in the row and 6. It makes me think that is Thorns response to his poor line out coaching. He’s gonna load the team with 5 line out jumpers instead of better coaching.

      • Reds Revival

        Good comment IS. I think LSL’s best position is power lock (and where he is most likely to get selected for the Wallabies).
        I suspect one of the young rowers will go off when McReight comes on, and LSL will switch to 5.

Queensland Reds

I love the Reds and I love the second row. That probably tells you all you need to know about me. I can often be found engaged in pointless arguments in the GaGR forums as 'Scoey".

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