Quick Review: Semi Final 1 - Reds v. Blues - Green and Gold Rugby
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Quick Review: Semi Final 1 – Reds v. Blues

Quick Review: Semi Final 1 – Reds v. Blues

Calm before the Red storm

It has been a season of broken records for the Reds: first wins in Canberra and Perth, first unbeaten South African tour since 2004, first time beating the Waratahs since the same year, longest winning streak (seven games) in the professional era, first time on top of the table since 1999, biggest Super crowd ever in Australia, and now, their first finals appearance since 2001.

Would tonight be the first time they actually win a finals match since the start of Super 12? The bookies had them as slight favourites, and everyone was confident, but as Stephen Brett kicked off, there was only 80 minutes standing in their way (ding – cliché count…).

The kick off went straight to Ben Tapuai who had his clearing kick charged down. Hopefully that would have served to put their mind on the game. There was a bit of back and forth, with the Reds making a couple of breakouts. Will Genia used a burst of space to get away once, then it was Rod Davies’ pure pace before passing to Jono Lance who was pulled down inches from the line by a try-saver from Joe Rokocoko. The resulting ruck gave Quade the first shot of the game. He pushed it wide.

Rod Davies had the audacity to attempt an intercept about 65 metres out. After a short juggle he took it cleanly and with no defenders back he was in the clear for a try under the black dot. Quade had no troubles adding the extras.

The parry and thrust continued, in what was a willing contest to this point, with only a silly penalty releasing the pressure as the Blues pushed hard at the Reds’ line. Radike Samo left the field with a neck injury, taking with him his hard tackling and a good line-out option. Jake Shatz replaced him. While that was happening, Quade had another penalty shot, and pushed this wide also.

From a kick return, Quade Cooper did what only Quade Cooper can do. He put a massive palm-off on Lachie Munro, then stepped five players before flicking the pass while he was going down to a chasing Ben Tapuai who was clear and got the try. The conversion was from Quade’s weak side and he failed to add the extras.

The Reds, and Quade, were growing in confidence and Quade tried the same move again shortly after the restart. This time instead of a fast back, he found Higginbotham. The big fella has some pace, but there was too far to go with too many defenders to beat and it wasn’t to be.

As the Reds heard the hooter and they could taste the oranges. As they looked to the tunnel, the Blues struck. Chris Lowrt collected a neat little pass from the ruck and ran through unmarked. With that, they hit the sheds.

In what was sure to be a massive half of football, Quade kicked off for the second half. The teams picked up where they left off, both attacking hard and coming unstuck with little errors. One of those errors gave the Blues a shot from 50-plus; Luke McAlister took the shot and nailed it.

Shortly after the restart, the Reds earned a line-out from about 20 metres out. They worked a lovely set move that saw Rod Davies strap on his jet shoes and in he went. Quade’s kicking yips continued and he left more points unscored.

Luke McAlister earned a reply with another penalty, which he kicked easily. The points difference was back to a converted try.

Jared Payne then put a chip kick in after the ball was turned over from the Reds attacking hard on the line. Instead of this relieving the pressure, the Reds pounced. Some quick hands saw the ball in Rod Davies’s hands and he was quickly over for his third. Incidentally, that was the first hat trick scored by a Reds player ever. No, not this year, Ever. Quade added the extras.

The Blues were clearly playing catch-up now, turning down an easy penalty shot to go for a line-out. They won the line-out, but a couple of phases later they were pinged for not releasing; again, silly errors releasing the pressure. The Blues were not perturbed though, and continued to push. Rene Ranger made a great break and on the pass, Jared Payne fumbled the ball and wasn’t able to control it, knocking it on.

The Reds then hit the attack. Following some strong ruck work, playing with the advantage, Adam Wallace-Harrison lunged for the line. Unfortunately some wily defending saw the ball come loose before he could put it down. Shortly after the resulting scrum, the Reds secured the ball and it was passed back to Quade in the pocket where he calmly slotted the drop goal.

As the hooter sounded, the Blues looked to switch on again, but a forward pass summed up their game.

The Super Rugby Final is coming to Brisbane.

Reds 30 (Try: Davies (3), Tapuai Con: Cooper 2/4 Pen: Cooper 1/3 DG: Cooper 1/1) defeated Blues 13 (Try: Lowry Con: Brett 1/1 Pen: McAlister 2/2)

Man of the Match: Quade Cooper

Crowd: 44 940

  • Missed tackles for the Reds will be of concern heading into the final. The Reds missed 35 tackles or on average 1 in every 4 attempts. The Blues missed 21 tackles also 1 in every 4 attempts.

    The Reds turned little possession into opportunities into points. The Reds had 35% possession in the 1st half and 40% for the entire game.

    In the 2nd half the Reds spent 29% in the Blues 22. The Blues spent 9% of the 2nd half inside the Red 22.

    21 penalties in the game. The Reds conceded 11, but 9 of these were in the 2nd half.

    • bill

      With those posession levels you’d tend to think the reds did well to limit the missed tackle count to that ratio.

  • lee enfield

    Great game, well done reds, fuck yeah. I thought kaplan had a great game and allowed both teams to play positive rugby. Could not have asked for a better example of rugby has to offer. Rod davies was awesome and Quades footwork was out of this world.

  • bill

    Well done blues, well done reds.

    Now does anyone doubt Rod Davies is a pure out and out finisher and a good player? Not just a speed merchant. If so you’ll get plenty of chances the next few years to adjust to reality.

    Speaking of wingers I have no idea what the all blacks will do but if Rene Ranger is fit they’d batshit insane not to pick him.

    Read with some amusement a kiwi journalist’s description of Munroe as a grafter. Hard marker, he must expect players to piss champagne and shit tiffany cufflinks.

  • Waratah

    Well done Queensland!

    Well done Kaplan

    Well done commentary… It was pleasing to have the commentary dulled and the ground experience to the fore. Well done Fox, you finally gave the TV fans EXACTLY what they want.

    It is always nice to be an Australian, today was one of those exceptionally nice days.

  • mattyjinoz

    I think Robbie Deans was in the sheds measuring Rod Davies up for a gold jersey

    • roland

      Brilliant.

  • skippy

    With so much talk on this site in particular from people pushing A Faingaa and Higgers’ claim to a Wallaby jersey I decided to watch today’s game with a close eye on them.

    Whilst one game doesn’t make a season, and you shouldn’t judge on one performance; I personally didn’t see anything tonight from either of them that makes them a standout Wallaby selection. I’m not saying they were poor or didn’t do good things… I’m just saying I didn’t see anything from them tonight, in a big game atmosphere that is still of less intensity than the 3 Nations or a WC knock out game… that made me sit up and say that their claims to a Wallaby jersey is a worthy. I’m not doubting the plaudits they’ve received to date or suggesting they are unwarranted but I just didn’t see anything from them tonight to make me want them in the Wallaby team and feel confident they are up to it, got something to offer and are the ‘best’ we’ve got in that position.

    I expect they will get a run out in the 3 nations and will push for WC squad selection but I just didn’t see anything tonight to warrant selection over other candidates, if fit and playing.

    I was however quite impressed with Holmes and Tapuai. Holmes could be a dark horse in the front row stakes for the wider Wallaby squad whilst Tapuai will push for a Wallaby jersey in the years to come. Daley…. no one can doubt his efforts or work around the ground but sadly is just not big enough to be an international first choice prop.

    • Newter

      David Dennis has been a better six/8 than Higginbotham all year.

      We’ve got lots of wingers. James O’Connor should play 12.

      • bill

        And the fairy godmother is a real and enduring prescence.

    • D.

      I’m one of those guys that is calling for them and you are right. Higgers and fingers were quiet tonight compared to their usual influences they have on the game.

      Still, it was an amazing game. So glad the Reds won and I’m looking forward to next week!!!!

      • The Rant

        blues scored one try and A-finger runs the defence – so he played his part.

  • skippy

    As for Rod Davis?

    Well… I personally think he will only make the WC if Mitchell doesn’t make it. Yes he is fast. I do like his aggression and I don’t think he is a defensive weak link. I expect he will get a run out in 3 nations and is probably ahead of Turner and potentially Cummins although he brings the ability to play 13 also. But he is at best the 4/5 choice Wallaby winger at present.

    But… the tries he scored tonight were not beyond the capability of Mitchell, Ioane, JOC, Beale or AAC as wingers. The cut out pass from Cooper for his 2nd? Yes his pace taking the ball on the outside gave him the room to move but the pace of Beale, Mitchell would have achieved the same result. His pace was crucial but his pace, whilst faster than others didn’t mean the pace of others wouldn’t be fast enough to achieve the same result.

    • bill

      In a choice between Drew and Rod I’d always pick Drew. Like Wendell said, what a talent. But Rod has worked hard, played hard and would absolutely be in my 15, and his ability is borne out of faith in himself as much as anything else.

      I would sooner move JO’C to centre, and lose AAC than Davies. Assuming Finger’s is the defensive centre partner. And I love AAC at OC.

      Well, whatever, not my job it’s Robbie’s and thank’s to all these wonderful players he has an incredible job ahead of him.

      • bill

        I’d disagree about the pace needed for that 2nd try. Leaving aside Davies interrupted that move to take what was in front of him I don’t think any other player in Aus rugby has the pace to put himself in that position.

        • bill

          In theory you’re correct to say Beale, especially, or O’Conner could’ve scored that try, but not in the manner you suggest. They simply would not have had the pace tobe in the position to make the decision Rod made, they would have had enough pace to put defenders in two minds and fake them out one way or the other, Rod only had to break the route off. But for my money equating the two is short changeing Rod and his teammates and the construction of that play. It also highlights the fallacy of criticising Rod because of his physical attributes.

        • skippy

          I’ll tell you what though… Turner has nothing on Rod. I cannot recall Turner beating a man on the outside for so long now. He may be fast but Turner has lost his ‘natural’ feel for the wing position. And does not utilise his greatest asset to the same degree as Rod Davies does.

        • Garry

          And let’s not forget that who ever get’s the wing spot will be playing outside Cooper. His natural combination with the Reds players outside him are an added card up the sleeve for Davies’ (or other Reds backs) claim.

          Simply stated Davies will play better of Cooper than (insert any non Red winger name).

          I’m not from QLD, but I’m loving the style of football they’re playing and the hope that they and Link are instilling in us.

      • Pedro

        Davies (when fully fit) is the fastest player that the Wallabies could select. That, combined with with Robbie Dean’s boner for fast players, to the power of the three tries he scored in the semi final, equals that he will be in the wallabies squad, unless he gets injured (somewhat likely) in the time between now and the world cup.

    • BDA

      Agree. Davies would not be one of my first choice wingers, but tonight he showed he can really make an impact. He won me over. Meausre that against Turner’s lack of impact last week and I would prefer Davies in the squad to Turner.

  • Gnostic

    Sorry Skippy two of Davies tries were well beyond the capability of AAC to score as he has shown this year he just doesn’t have the pace.

  • Zeno

    The Blues looked a class, if not two classes, below the Reds tonight. In particular, their attack was lame. They tried to spread it as often as they could and what happened? Forward passes, high passes, dropped ball, props in the way, gift intercepts. The alignment wasn’t there and when the Reds’ line rushed them they ran out of options. There’s no point bringing that sort of crap to the Super finals.

    Quade Cooper is astonishing. The try he laid on for Ben Tapuai was one out of the box. I didn’t see him give the pass; I thought he’d blown it. Then suddenly McAlister was flailing and Taps was clear.

  • Old Weary

    good to see the guys held it together when things were not always working for them (referring to Coopers boot) –

    but have to ask, wtf was Kearns on about with 6mins to go, saying he hoped the Blues would score twice and go into extra time? I know they are meant to be impartial, but they were getting carried away, and the amount of spunk they would have left on the floor of the commentary room every time Rene Ranger got near the ball would be crazy…

  • bill

    Rene Ranger is class.

    • Who Needs Melon

      He is scary good, isn’t he? Is he covered in grease or something? Because he just seems completely untackleable. He looked fit so don’t know why he wasn’t out there for longer.

      • bill

        He belongs in the same categories as the ? f*ck it, too late to late in the night to compare him with anyone else. Great player, superb balance.

  • Good game, see all you Texans north of the tweed next Saturday ;)

  • ozabroad

    great night out in Hamilton. Watch the game and loved with the barracking for the crusaders as I cheered for the Reds in the last minute , O did mention to the genlemen that he may have the wrong game and he seemed to noy like it. It was a great night.

  • Scotty in Devon

    The Reds are the real deal now – it would be nice if some of that could be put into the Wallabies. I very much hope they win the whole shootin’ match. Cooper is indeed astonishing – he could be the Mark Ella for our times…..

    Scotty – NSW born & bred.

  • Alan

    missed the and depressed i did so. Had tickets for another code’s match in ANZ

    congrads to the Reds and thanks for the write up

  • Patrick
    • Skip

      i also really liked the way he sized up Kaino and Maelamu and turned one them inside out and was away.

      • Jay

        Sai’ili & McAlister, rather than Kaino & Mealamu, I think.

  • bill

    Apropos of nothing, but the ‘tahs would be well advised to look at signing Ben Coridas for next season for open side. Despite what He’s stated I’d prefer him to be lighter rather than heavier and back his game sense instead.

  • D.

    Holy shit 23 comments and not a kiwi blaming the ref, the touchie, tmo, Suzie or the conditions. Did hell just freeze over?

    • Skip

      wait for a week mate.

      • Jay

        Why? The ref next week is Bryce Lawrence – MOOHOO HAHAHAHAHA!!! etc…

        God, Sanzar is retarded. Two of the best refs in the world (Joubert & Mark Lawrence) are available & neutral but they’re still gonna stick with this stupid (supposed) best ref rather than neutral ref policy.

    • Patrick

      The internet does not work at night in NZ…

      • Skip

        it works there at all?

  • bill

    Well, what was it 12,000, turned up to see blues tahs? Maybe they’re more into other activities in NZ? …sheepdog trials, North American Indian sweat lodges? Glory hole olympics? who knows?

    Don’t blame me NZ fans, blame Jeremy Clarkson.

  • Jay

    Correction to the original article – Lowrey scored the Blues try, not Saili.

    • Thanks mate. Was already half way to the pie warmer when he scored… Fixed.

  • Robson

    Quade Cooper runs like an upright worm and just as slippery, with different segments of his body swinging one way and then the other. Put this on top of two dancing feet and some gusts of gas and you’ve got the man of the match. And probably the man of many more matches to come. He is unique. There is just no other player in the world like him.

    Pity about the kicking though. Just a theory, but his unusual stance when he is addressing the ball is to ensure that it DOESN’T fade right to left. He probably needs to accentuate the left arm across the body more like he did when he first started that style. His kicks were going straight then, but his left arm has dropped and his kicks are now starting to fade again.

    The other man of the match was indeed Johnathon Kaplan. He had an excellent game and was right on to Kevan Mealamu for blocking his runner off the ruck just when the Blues were about to score a try from it. Good stuff. He was also very fair and consistent with both sides repeated indiscretions.

    Radike Samo seemed to be out of touch with the tempo of the game for the short period he was on. I watched him carefully and was, frankly, disappointed with his level of accuracy and commitment.

    The “outside gap” try that Rod Davis scored was sensational and it is impossible to say that Mitchell or JOC would have scored it. They might have, they might not have. The fact is that Davis DID score it. And incidentally Davis actually shrugged off half a tackle immediately after racing through the gap. Someone else not running on quite the same arc may well have been taken by that tackle. Davis scored the try. Pointless arguing about anyone else who wasn’t even on the pitch.

    It’s pretty distressing to know that Bryce Lawrence will officiate at the final. He misses an incredible amount of stuff and I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t have picked up Mealamu infringing at the ruck the way that Kaplan did. Maybe Kaplan got a touchie call, but the blast came on his whistle almost immediately the infringement took place, so I think he caught it himself. Lawrence doesn’t look for that stuff. Watch Richie McCaw have a field day next week.

    And talking about next week, there are a few things that need to be addressed by the Reds before then. The lack of phases they put together is one of them and is a direct consequence of their work on the tackle ball. If the Reds squander as many opportunities to score and to kick the goals as they did last night, they will end up as beaten finalsts on their own home ground. After all these years I would hate to see that happen

    • Jay

      Kaplan also missed a lot of stuff. He tends to basically let whichever team has a good roll on get away with things while looking too harshly at a side under the pump. Both sides benefitted from this at times, but there were some pretty odd calls.

      That penalty against Munro near the start of the match for instance, and one ludicrous turnover where a Reds forward in a ruck just reached down and picked the ball up, for instance.

    • Serious?

      As much as I would like to see the Reds win next weekend, I think if the Reds play like they did this weekend and if the Crusaders play like they did, the Crusaders will take it, and probably comfortably. The Crusaders scrum is a destructive and energy sapping force, their line out was nigh on unflappable all night, their phase play was physical and accurate, their defence was phenomenal and their back line didn’t seem to get out of 3rd gear. The Reds set piece was average at best, in fact their line out was horrendous, but made up for it with seriously heart stopping counter-attack, aggression at the breakdown and taking their opportunities well, however the Crusaders are not the Blues, they rarely give opportunities and their realignment on defence is probably second to none in this competition.

      I think some seeds of doubt were planted in the Reds minds last night at Suncorp – lineout, goal kicking and I think the Blues, despite their lack of penetration most of the night, exposed some weaknesses on the wing and around the ruck fringes. Horror travel schedule or not, the Crusaders know finals football better than anyone in this competition, Carter has his kicking boots on and they have the most dominant forward pack I think we have ever seen in Super Rugby. Crusaders to take it.

      • Garry

        Anyone who stayed up to watch the match would be worried about how the Crusaders scrum literally demolished a highly rated Saffer pack (it reminded me of last years WB’s pack performance). This is very worrying for the Reds. Long stops next week fellas, and hit the scrum machine during the week.

        And once again, lineout throw was poor. We cannot give away those opportunities against this Crusaders side. Reds will need to turn on their A game for 80 mins, no slack offs.

        • Doctor D

          You might have missed how the Reds also gave the Stormers much lauded pack a touch up at their home ground as well. Honestly, Stormers weakest part was their scrum, but you’d be hard pressed finding a one eyed saffer coach that would admit it.

          Boks are going to get smashed off the paddock in the scrums in the 3N this year.

  • KingofDubai

    Stars are aligned. Will be tight next week but reds to take the title.

  • BDA

    Higgers for me showed he is not quite there in terms of a test play. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but his work rate is just not high enough. He’s not really a bash and crash ball runner either. Great player, but honestly you cant even compare him to Elsom, the way elsom lead the wallabies last year. I’m a Qlder, but I’d personally like to see Dave Dennis get a chance at back-up 6 ahead of Higgers.

    Great game Reds!! The Saders are going to be very tough next week, but if the Reds can be within striking distance with 20 minutes to go they should be able to run down the saders. All that travel is going to leave tired legs in the last 20 minutes.

    • Garry

      Do you mean

      ” the way Rocky played for Leicester ” ?

      ;)

      • Bacon

        Do you mean

        *the way Rocky played for Leinster*?

      • Gingernuts

        Or even Leinster…

  • BDA

    @ Garry….No, i mean the way he played for the wallabies last year… The man never quit, did a mountain of work in defense and at the breakdown. He wasn’t in his best form, but he was a workhorse, which will perhaps become evident if he is replaced by Higgers.

    Was you’re comment meant to be a petty knock at Elsom’s ability, or are you just playing devils advocate? Do you have an actual opinion on who are best no.6 is our are you just a “glass half empty” sad-sack?

    • Garry

      Nice.

      It was meant to be a reminder that last year many words were written in these forums questioning why Rocky wasn’t achieving the damaging heights that he did with Lickensteiner. Not only was his playing ability questioned, but plenty of form space devoted to questioning his captaincy style and its effectiveness. Back then, to be fair, much of the difference was put down to the tight 5 not pulling their weight, and the loosies having to do more of a workload in close.

      My comment was merely to reflect that, although he has been a world beater, particularly outstanding at (that club captained by BOD), he made very few of those rampaging runs last year, and has played little Super Rugby this year due to his injuries.

      My main concern is that, under Deans, players aren’t being picked on form, particularly forwards. Not only damaging for results, but this sends the wrong message in respect of competition for positions. Is Rocky good enough o walk back into his spot, or should he have to play himself back in? I think you’re right, Deans’ll pick him straight up.

      I was attempting something of a poor devils advocate, but if it came off wrong, apologies. And no, I don’t have a opinion on the Higgs/DD/other replacement for the WB no.6, but plenty of opinion will be written from others.

      Not a sad sack, but often the un-achieved potential of our WB’s under Deans leaves me blue.

    • Garry

      I just read that he’s been chosen as the Brumbies best, for nomination for player of the year (on the forum).

      I beg your pardon, he went under my radar. Hats off.

  • Pedro

    Great game, all praise to the Reds, great commitment from the entire team. Quade kicked poorly but it he made up for it by winning the man of the match, good plan B. Speaking of plans, one has to be impressed with Ewan McKenzie, turning a near wooden spoon team into finalists, to play the Crusaders. I wonder if the Reds are as keen to get rid of him as the Tah’s were the last time he accomplished that.

    • Gingernuts

      Not sure the people trying to punt Link from the Tahs were plural, if you know waugh, I mean what I mean…

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@mrtimms

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

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