The Reds come into this match with one win from two matches. And not even the most one eyed red glasses wearing fan could be very confident after last week’s win against the Brumbies.
The Bulls arrive with the same win/loss record, a similar points differential, a 12,000 km flight under their belts, and a suspiciously Brisbane City like strip. [Apparently it was a nod to the Pretoria soccer team to broarden their supporter base. WTF?]
Bulls came out firing and were turning down shots at goal to go to the lineout in an attempt to get the first points on the board. It came soon enough with Filipo Daugunu misreading the play and opened a hole for Warrick Gelant to stroll through in the 5th minute. The try was converted by Handre Pollard to take the Bulls to the lead with 7 points.
As the game progressed through the 15 minute mark the ball was swapped out for a cake of soap and the game switched to hit and giggle volleyball. After some back and forward the Reds got the feed into the scrum and the Bulls pack went into reverse. Scrum called. COME. ON. BOYS.
This seemed to spook the Bull’s pack and it took three goes to get the next scrum sort of completed with the Reds coming away with the penalty advantage for the Bulls collapsing. Eventually Tupou barged his way over the line but was held up. The advantage was still in play from the previous scrum so we just returned to the mark & reset. This time the Bulls got free kick …… and if anyone can fill me in as to why it would be appreciated.
Eventually James Slipper decided enough was enough and the Reds need to take some points. After spending 15 minutes bashing away at the try line, the Reds were on the receiving end of a penalty for the Bulls being off side. Tuttle took the shot and brought the score to 3-5.
Soon after the restart in play, the Reds lost the ball to the Bulls and then compounded the error with a massive brain fade in defence. Travis Ismaiel broke through the line & raced down field. With some excellent passing Andre Warner was over for the Bulls second try which Pollard duly converted to take the score to 3-14.
Eto Nabuli owes Liam Wright a few beers after Wright pounced on the ball for a turnover a few phases after Nabuli knocked on yet again as a result of being out of position close to the Bulls try line.
Eventually Caleb Timu was on the end of some nice passing to score on the left hand wing. Tuttle kicked the conversion and the score was 10-14. Reds were coming back.
The first half finished with some scrambling defence from the Bulls as the Reds threatened the line again.
The second half started as the first half finished with knock-ons a plenty (yes looking at you Nabulli), and the Reds looking like they were the ones who had flown half way around the world.
Six minutes into the second half, the unpredictable Daugunu split the Bulls defence, offloaded to Brandon Paenga-Amosa who put Toua into a gap to run over beside the sticks. Tuttle converted and the Reds were in the lead 17-14
Service returned to normal in the handling department until Tate McDermott penalised in the 57th minute for throwing a pass into a Bulls player. Was a good idea…. except the pass as forward. Ooops.
I would like to say that the humidity was making it difficult for both sides, but the Reds seemed to having more difficulty that the Bulls. However, the Reds scrum was still working well with the reserves on. In the 67th minute they just plain old demolished the Bulls pack. From the subsequent lineout the Reds played a couple of phases before Nabuli was in the wrong place again and lost the ball over the line. Lucky for him the pack like their work and the scrum again walked over the Bulls pack to win the ball back for another win. And a reset. And another…… And another…. Oh for crying out loud blow the whistle. Eventually a short arm went to the Bulls for McDermott not feeding the unstable scrum. Bloody heck!
Eventually a high tackle on Kerevi was penalised and Lance stepped up to take the shot from 37 metres out. Reds lead 20 – 14.
The Reds defence started to show their improvement late in the game. Or did they just get the better of the Bulls attack.
The Bulls were awarded a penalty 79:59 when Timu did not release the ball after he was tackled. They kicked to the corner and after several phases with the stadium holding their breath Alex Mafi made a hit on the Lood de Jager and knocked the ball lose. Phew.
Here endeth the story with a Reds win 20 – 14. Apparently the first time they have had consecutive wins since 2014.
The Game Changer
The game turned in the second half. The Reds seemed to get their act together and the Bulls were unable to score. The Reds bench is making a real difference late in the game. Maybe our depth isn’t that bad…. but we are yet to be tested by the Kiwis.
The G&GR MOTM
Taniela Tupou. Tupou has soft hands, makes huge hits in defence and breaks the line in attack frequently. It looks like the Thorn school of fitness is agreeing with him. Lance also had a very good game.
The outsider calls are going to be Filipo Daugunu (eligibility dependant) and Liam Wright. They have talent to burn and with some judicious coaching will be there before we know it. Other than that the usual suspects.
REDS 20 (A Toua, C Timu tries; J Tuttle 2 conv, pen goal, J Lance pen goal) bt BULLS 14 (R Warner, J Kriel tries; H Pollard 2 conv)
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