Rebels stuns Reds in Super Rugby opener - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Rebels stuns Reds in Super Rugby opener

Rebels stuns Reds in Super Rugby opener

The Rebels began their Super Rugby campaign in style, thrashing the Queensland Reds 45 – 19.

Both teams had a point to prove.  The Rebels, after a horrible 2017 season, had to win back the love and respect of its fans.  The Reds, under the new leadership of Brad Thorn, were desperate to turn around a run of lacklustre performances over the past few years.

However tonight, it would be the Rebels fans who would go home smiling after a dominant display.

As often in the first match of the season,  there was little rust on a show, with a lot more dropped ball, and moves not quote executing correctly.  The big difference was Will Genia, who inspired the Rebels backline, and gained precious territory with the boot.  His 56 minutes were a pure display of class.

The Match

Heavily influenced by early cards, the Rebels slowly found the right gear, taking the lead after 30 minutes of play, and never looking back.

The Match was defined by two cards; a Reds captain Scott Higginbotham, and a Yellow to Lakhan Tui. Despite holding the lead for brief periods, the Reds stood little chance against a Rebels side hungry for victory.

The improvement in Melbourne are dramatic; the locks and flankers provided a solid base for Will Genia to run the game, the backs combined for quick ball movement, the scrum was solid, and the lineout delivered constantly.  The Rebels first match last season ended by conceding seven tries, this one by scoring the same, so far for a turnaround.

The Reds have to re-think at their gameplan: Jono Lance and James Tuttle were not in sync, and they couldn’t fully utilise Kerevi’s power not Paia’aua’s speed. Even though they were a man down in the backline, with Nabuli spending large amounts of time with forwards, conceding seven tries was a poor display by any standard.

First Half:

The Reds had the first opportunity to score with a halfway penalty from Jono Lance. The former Western Force had the length but not the precision to slot the kick.

At the 8th minute, the game took a dramatic turn, with a red card for Reds captain Scott Higginbotham. The former Rebels number 8 hit Matt Philip with his shoulder straight on the head in a maul and sent him off for an early shower. Hodge missed the penalty and the score didn’t change.

Despite playing a man down the Reds enjoyed a good passage of play.  They backed their 7 man scrum, instead of going for the easy three point, and put the pressure back on the Rebels defence.  Handling errors cost them some momentum, but the try wasn’t far away.

The visitors try came just a couple minutes later, with Duncan Paia’aua gained control of a ball spilt by Kerevi and run untouched under the Rebels’ posts.  The replay showed the ball going backwards and the try was awarded. Lance added the conversion for the Reds 7-0 lead.

Soon after Lukhan Tui committed a tip tackle on Will Genia, planting his head into the turf.   On this occasion, Pickerill this time opting for a yellow card, and the Reds were down to 13 men.  On replay, the tip tackle looked a lot worse than the Higginbotham shoulder charge, so Tui can consider himself very lucky.

With a two man advantage, the Rebels soon found the try line.  Super Sefa Naivalu was on the end of a very flat pass fromLopeti Timpani which was, at best, very flat.  Debreczeni slotted the easy conversion for the 7 all.

Sefa Naivalu scores

It took only a couple of minutes for the Reds to regain the lead; they found the Rebels’ defence asleep at the 28th minute with a too easy central pass from Feaaui-Sautia to Kerevi .
Lance again slotted the very easy 2-pointer, giving the Reds the 14 – 7 lead.

The Rebels hit back a few minutes later with their own try. After another Reds penalty, Genia saw the Reds right wing completely exposed, tapped quickly a penalty and gave Tom English a sweet pill to deposit over the chalk.

With the Reds still 2 men down, the Rebels scored their third try, the second from Super Sefa Naivalu, again on their attacking left side. This time Debreczeni missed the conversion.

The Rebels’ good run didn’t end there. The fourth Rebels try of the match was scored with Dane Haylett-Petty, unsurprisingly on the left wing.  Debreczeni didn’t miss again and the Rebels’ carried a 12 points lead to the halftime oranges.

First half score: Rebels 26 – Reds 14

Second Half:

A superb move between Mafi and Genia opened the second half, the two combining in front of the Reds’ posts exposed the visitors’ defence and Jack Debreczeni scored, once again on the left wing. The flyhalf converted his own try, moving the scores to 33 – 14.

Adding further insult, an intercept try from Haylett-Petty the 46th minute put the game out of reach for the undermanned Reds.

Instant AAMI Park hero: Dane Haylett-petty

The floodgates opened and Jack Debreczeni was able to score his second of the game, the seventh try for the Rebels, almost the same number of tries scored by the Rebels the first half of the past season.

Feaaui-Sautia scored for the visitors after a plethora of spilt ball and missed passes with 10 minutes to go.

The clock wound down with no change to the score.  A long time between victories, the players were satisfied with their effort, and the crowd jubilant.

Final score: Rebels 45 – Reds 19

The Wrap Up

The Rebels had a dominant display from the 30th minute onwards half thanks to better execution and a more effective bench.  Conceding seven tries is never a good sign, and the Reds were left with too many questions to answer.


The Game Changer

Scott Higginbotham red card defined the match. The captains’ shoulder charge to the head of Philip left the visitors’ one man down for 70 minutes.

The G&GR MOTM

Will Genia was the inspiration for the Rebels, his 56 minutes on the field were a display of precision both with the hands and with the boot, never missed a bit.

Wallaby watch

Matt Philip impressed in the second row as well as Gus Cottrell in the third, two players that can develop to be a solid player for the Wallabies.

 


The Details

Score & Scorers


Rebels  45  (26)
Tries: Naivalu (2), Haylett-Petty (2), English, Debreczeni
Conversions: Debreczeni 6/7
Penalties: Hodge 0/1


Reds 19 (14)
Tries: Paia’aua, Kerevi, Feaaui-Sautia
Conversions: Lance 2/2, Tuttle 0/1
Penalties: Lance 0/1

Cards & citings

RC: Higginbotham 8′
YC: Tui (23′ – 33′)

Crowd

10,210

  • sophankithfund

    Lance over Quade is still a joke

    • Greg

      keep chuckling… I think it isn’t going to change.

      • Sideshow

        That’s true, but I confess that even though I live in Qld, I’ve lost all interest in cheering for the Reds. I would love to think that the QC decision is a hard nosed stroke of genius, but I can’t get past the idea that it is merely a bitchy little hangover from Thorn’s All Blacks QC hating days. Was hoping for another McKenzie to take the flawed QC genius and mould a champion team around it again.

        • Gallagher

          I’m not worried, give it half a season and thorn will be booted, quade will be back, and so will the fans and a semblance to an attack and leadership

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I really don’t think Thorn is the type of person to hold a grudge like that. He certainly doesn’t like Quade as a player but I think it’s about the way he plays not any lingering dislike between them on the field.

        • Alister Smith

          Fully agree KRL – you tend to respect opposition players even if they have a hard edge – Thorn is not the type to hold that sort of grudge – winning is important to him but he wants to win his way and I don’t think he feels QC can give him what he feels the team needs.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Go back to the HK Test in 2010. Cooper is involved in a few scuffles and Thorn always seems involved too, or even comes over to get involved.

          I don’t think the two particularly liked one another.

        • Gipetto

          He has a 100% losing record as a Super rugby coach.

        • Alister Smith

          I have a 0% winning record as a Super rugby coach as well…I might give him more than one game before I make further judgements but personally I hope both Quade and Thorn & Queensland have success – whether together or separately

        • Brisneyland Local

          KRL agree, but am just dissapointed that Thorn hasnt yet developed the coaching skills to shape QC the way he wants him (QC) to be IMHO. Link did both for the Reds and Wallabies, but Link had a bit experience as coach at that stage. I agree that the problem is probably attitudinal, but a person like Thorn I believe has the strength of character to rebuild and reshape QC, especially with the amount of money QRU and RA are presently paying him not to play. It seems ludicrous, that some one with Thorns skills and credibility cant make it work, and sadly hasnt even attempted too.

        • Greg

          Completely agree @brisneylandlocal:disqus . Does QC have skills and an ability to change a game. Absolutely. Does he also lose games? absolutely. There is a challenge for any coach. Why not take it on?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep especially when you are and still will be shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for it. stupidity not to try.

        • Straith

          Fuck this thought process, if you think Quade has the ability to lose a game because he is a high risk high reward player then Foley is High risk low reward. Look at Foley and consider how many times he goes absolutely quiet and will cost a game. Look at the amount of tries scored off a genia or foley charge down in the past 4 years. Then compare the win rates for the wallabies when Quade or Foley are playing and get back to me. Don’t get your opinions from the media or what you read on a Facebook comment, think hard and build your own opinions. Games are won when the forwards are doing their role well and the fly halve finishes the job, fly halves that don’t stop to think how to beat/unlock a defense 10 minutes into every game aren’t doing their job well and don’t win games. The hint is the name name, play…. maker….
          The general consensus is rarely right when it comes to rugby, most posters on this website are fairly woke. Try not to be another sheep.

        • Gallagher

          Man well said.

        • onlinesideline

          he wins more games than he loses too

        • Garry

          Question is, how bad will they allow it to get? How many floggings?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Mate that is the big question. Also how much pressure will be pushed on the QRU by RA to make use of players that they are paying but not using. As RA is footing approx 50% of the bill.

        • Garry

          A case of Spieghts arrived just before Christmas, signed Cheers bro.

        • Pearcewreck

          Spot on Sideshow.
          Thorn hates QC, Thorn puts himself first, second and third.
          Not what you want from a coach.
          Take out QC, and who provides the spark?
          And Higgers as skipper, pleeeasse???

        • jamie

          Higgers is one of the most penalised players in super rugby is he not?

          Ridiculous choice for captain.

        • McWarren

          Did okay at the Rebels as Skipper?

      • onlinesideline

        lol – keep chuckling – made me chuckle ….anywayyy – (roll eyes at self)

  • Greg

    Thanks for the write up.

    I thought Genia, notwithstanding the youthful haircut, was excellent. Even some of his box kicks!

    The red card spoiled the game but it looked fair enough. I don’t think there was anything malicious in the tackle but there was a clear shoulder to an opponent’s head.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well good morning GAGR’s, this is the first time in 15 years I have written anything about the Reds, not as a Reds member (See previous posts), after 15 years the Reds and I have consciously uncoupled! ;-). Am still a fan just not a member. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

    – Well done to the Rebels they played well and wanted this one.
    – Well I bet the Reds are just kicking themselves that they didnt keep Willy G. I mean what stupidity went on in the QRU with that decision. And whilst we are on the topic lets keep paying QC shit loads of money , that we cant use for other players or perhaps even use QC because the QRU are f&cktards!
    – Whether it was a red or a yellow could be debated, but the reality was, it was a stupid fucking tackle, and Higgers as the Captain should know better and set up a better example. It cost his team dearly.
    – The yellow card, again was another stupid moment. It is debatable that that could have been a red as well.
    – The Reds defence again was pourous. Acceptin they were a man down, players constantly were caught out of position and leaked easy tackles which resulted in trys.
    – The Reds scrum was good till we lost Higgers and then struggled a bit. But was surprised at times that a man down our scrum occaisionally was able to play well. This could be an issue for the Rebels.
    – I remember saying when thorn was appointed as coach that “…..at least the Reds will be fit and disciplined.” Well they are fitter then they have been previous seasons, but their discipline is stil very questionable.
    – When Higgers was patched out, the Reds seem to lack the maturity amongst it players to regroup. No George Smith, no QC, no Willy G. Even Slipper didnt seem to be able to grab their attention and get them back on track.
    – A hard start for Thorn and the Reds. A lot of work to do.

    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Fatflanker

      Yes I think the Rebs will be a tad worried about their scrum. Notwithstanding, very hard to read too much into either team given the send-offs and the conditions. Higginbotham probably put the nails in the coffin of his test career – shame because I still think he’s been given a bit of the pineapple treatment from Cheika,

      • Brisneyland Local

        FF, Yep I agree. To be honest I think it was a rush of blood to the head. But he really should know better, and I was hoping the Captainship would be the maturing factor. But alas. And yes Higgers is another player Cheika has shown his blatant disregard for.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Got nothing to add mate. I think that until there is a major change at the Reds corporate level this team is going to keep disappearing up its own arse. There are too many poor strategic decisions that haven’t allowed the team to grow in the right direction. I think it’s going to be a looooooong year for Reds fans

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep, want to disagree with you but I cant. The problem with the Reds is they never search any further than their own car park. Whilst the appointment of Thorn I think is a good thing. They are not doing anything to support him. Because the QRU knows better! Hence why I am no longer a member after 15 years. I will not financially contribute to their delinquency!

        • Bernie Chan

          Gents…we seem to be all sailing on the same good ship Titanic…BLL pretty much summed it up (I am also no longer a member but will always wear red…). I read some musings from Richard Barker (QRU CEO) before the season kicked off…and there was no indication that the QRU Head Office was in anyway accepting any responsibility for the signings debacle. If Jono Lance is a better flyhalf than QC then…and why did Stewart not start if Thorn/Carroza thought he was good enough (Ben Luca and Jono Lance were not signed until much later…) such that QC got shafted? Think Tui will cop a couple of weeks…the Refs ‘bottled it’ as Higgers was already gone…?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep concur. I think LT is in for a week or two of quiet reflection on how not to tackle like an idiot. Stupid and dangerous that was! I am feeling sorry for Thorn, he is going to have a hard year. It will take ages to knock the Woody Graham and Nick Stiles version of stupid out of this lot.

        • Gareth

          spot on – the Reds have plenty of heart but no brains. last year they had neither – thorn has added heart,
          next step will be brains.
          RE: QC I just don’t get the anger up here about not playing him. He was good in 2011 but that was 7 years ago. Really added nothing since to any team he has played for.

        • Gipetto

          We watched Quade manage the Reds to a victory over the conference leading Brumbies in the last 2017 Super Rugby fixture. It was the kind of game management that Sanchez showed last night. There is a committee of headless chooks running the selection process.

        • Bernie Chan

          No one disagrees…our Reds were woeful in 2017. Few could hold their heads high…but they were better with QC then without QC.

        • David Creagh

          Took the words right out of my mouth. Cooper is not the same player he was in 2011, his knee injury saw to that. IMO Australian rugby has got to find the stars of the future and not look to the stars of the past to reproduce form that they are no longer capable of.

        • onlinesideline

          was the knee the pivotal moment like everyone says. Id beg to differ. He still hit form 2 or 3 years after that… his step may be a little bit less confident and his pace was never his trump card even at his peak, so why was the knee the turning point ?

        • Who?

          People just think he’s not been the same player since. I still remember a couple of ankle snappers from the 2015 RWC training camp (ARU Twitter) and the Uruguay game.
          The knee didn’t nobble him, but he’s had some injury spells since. Dropped 2012 (Robbie), eventually the starting 10 late 2013 (and the best run of performances at 10 over more than 4 games by a Wallaby this decade), injured in 2014 (hence Foley got the gig), injured and largely ignored ever since…
          For mine, the killer at the Reds was the departure of Link in 2012/13 (he didn’t do much in 2013 other than the Lions game), and then the departure of Link in 2014. He hasn’t had a real run at the Wallabies since (his run of five or six starting games was hobbled by Foley at 12), and at state level the Reds haven’t had anything resembling a game plan since Link left.

        • Gallagher

          That’s rubbish, he may not win games like he used to but he doesnt lose them like he used to either. He became a much more solid and all round player many years ago. If you think Quade wouldn’t have saved the Reds from a drubbing on the weekend, by showing his leadership qualities in running a teams backline, and the forwards pack for that matter, then you are simply disconnected from rugby. Go look up his ‘mic’d up’ sessions from last year, or footage on how he controls games with his kicking, and repositions players, calling set moves, he controls backlines and would have kept us in the game with tactics that where not on display on the weekend. A red card is no excuse for a big loss, it just shows a lack of leadership you need in a team that Thorn has unfortunately stripped before the new leadership group could be identified. Poor form Brad.

        • David Creagh

          You raise some fair points but in response I would say:
          1.

        • jamie

          2013 Wallabies? Last season whenever he came off the bench for the Wobs the attack was noticeably more threatening. And every time he comes on to replace Foley, for that matter.

          And despite all his injuries, in 2015 or 2016 he came out against the force and scored a brace in his first game of the season.

        • Gareth

          He never wins games anymore, More likely to get a yellow card than score a try. He is actually tied 6th for the most international yellow cards of all time.

        • Bernie Chan

          Bizarre how this mindset has apparently infected the Reds post Link…daft rugby from guys who should know better.

    • Damo

      Good summary mate. But I have to add- what is going on with skills coaching in Oz SR teams? I sat and watched what was probably 4th and 5th ranked NZ teams do battle before the Reds/ Rebels game. There was barely a dropped ball and persistent secure carries in the face of some gruesome tackling. And remember the Australian derby wasn’t being played on a wet and humid Brisbane night. The Reds were the worst but both teams were guilty of poor and panic passing as well as dropped cold ball. It’s about executing skills under pressure and it’s been an issue for years and it carries on to the wallabies as well. Reds, please don’t drive me crazy again this year!

      • James Pettifer

        It was very hot and humid in Melbourne. Really unusual weather and I think this had an impact on the players fitness and handling.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep, I hoped that a pre-season with THorn might have gone some way to alleviating that problem. But alas, was definitely there in spades, and you are spot on in pointing out that it cant be blamed on Qld humidity because it was played in Melb. Lucky they didnt play here last night, it was hammering down. I got soaked just walking back from my neighbours house. A Fijian who like my adores the rugby. He has Fox, and I have a hatred of Fox but alas have to watch SR on his fox (yes hypocritical I know). But I had an umbrella and still got drenched!

      • Kevino

        Hell of a difference playing in 31 degrees with humidity and having had rain in the day to a indoor stadium in far south NZ where it’s lucky to reach 20 degrees in the height of summer

    • Perth girl

      The Reds couldn’t sign Genia because it would have taken them over the salary cap. Of course the salary cap doesn’t apply for any team now!

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep, and think of all the players they shedded afterwards, and the ones they are still paying for. Incompetence at its best!

      • onlinesideline

        i genuinely believe Genia wanted a change. I really dont think it was all Reds management. Just gut feeling, nothing else though…

        • Who?

          Perth Girl’s right, the Reds already had 3 scrummies on their books (Frisby, Tuttle, Sorovi), and the salary cap was still in play at that point. Since then, they’ve signed another scrummie (Ben Lucas), have told Frisby not to come in (even though I believe he’s still contracted), and the salary cap’s effectively been abandoned for this year due to the closure of the Force.

    • Michael Hassall

      Nothing material to add BLL.

      That was exceptionally painful to watch, even with low expectations. It could be a very long year indeed.

  • idiot savant

    Is Higgers still playing for Melbourne? Because his exit handed them the confidence they didnt have prior to that and is the kind of wind shift that can change a season. Fate is cruel. Dropped from the Wallabies for ‘lack of impact’, Higgers decided to become enforcer. He got his height wrong, and even though his right arm was clearly wrapped around Phillips at the point of impact, the head has to be protected and he was just unlucky. I hope he continues to be physical, just drops his body height. And hes probably made over 5,000 tackles as a professional footballer. I think thats the first one hes ever been sent off for.

    Genia is an enigma. I cant recall him playing as well in his last 50 matches for the Reds as he did last night. Maybe they didnt pay him enough. Youre right 22, the Rebels flankers gave Genia the space to work with all night, whereas the 2 Reds flankers clearly struggled.

    When Higgers left, I would’ve thought the message would’ve gone out to slow the game down and maintain possession for as long as possible. Not sure that happened, they still gave it to the backs too early and kicked a lot. Perhaps thats because they only had one experienced forward and a second year halfback. Im not convinced about the Reds halfback stocks.

    Lance gave the best tackling display from an Australian 10 I’ve seen in years. But I worry about the Reds defence from 13 outwards. I think all a lot of sides will have to do this season is catch and pass to their outside men and breaks will come. So much for Thorns new defence mantra. Reds were lucky that the Rebels put the cue in the rack after 60 minutes. If they had kept their foot to the floor, they might have scored 70 points and terminated Thorns career before it had begun.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I think it’s just fair to say that from 2014-15 Genia was really out of form. He was okay at the RWC but didn’t really hit his stride until the 2016 RC. He was even better in the 2017 RC (but poor on tour).

      He’s clearly found form again. Thankfully for Aus.

      Do you think there are significant cultural issues at the Reds, or no?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Gday DB, I for one am really glad Willy G has found form again. A great player and a really good guy. I will always remember him spending 20 mins with my then 6 year old daughter at the Rookies to Reds girls day, teaching her to pass. So much patience and a real genuine love for the kids that are the future of his game. Regardless of what team he plays for, I am a huge fan. I am not pissed at him for not playing at the Reds. Am totally pissed at the QRU for letting him go.
        The only surprise from your normal excellent logic DB, is your question about the cultural problem at the Reds. I thought the answer to that was axiomatic.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Fair point :P .

          And yep, Willy G is one of the few post-07 Wallabies who will be remembered as an all time great, along with Pocock. If Digby had been luckier with injuries then he, too, could have ended up in that category probably.

        • Brisneyland Local

          At that same session with Willy G, about ten of the kids did a stacks on Digby and were tickling him. It was hilarious. He was a great player and a funny funny man!

      • idiot savant

        I dont know DB. I assume the primary reason Cooper was let go was culture but it might simply have been form. I think the culture at Qld Country with Thorn and Carozza was good and they are both now at the centre of the Reds. I expect the culture will improve.

        • Sideshow

          You don’t fix a culture by getting rid of individuals with good hearts. That just creates fear and uncertainty. And *that* creates a culture where good people start looking around for somewhere safer to go. The only individuals you can dump are those with sociopathic tendencies. You fix a culture by leading the way. You bring out people’s strengths and work on their weaknesses.

        • David Creagh

          Culture in a sporting team, as in a business or a nature is something that takes years to change. In a sporting team it is a bit easier to get the weeds out of the garden and players move on but it still sometimes requires generational change. Look at what Jake White did at the Brumbies, kept what he liked, pissed off those that did not fit his plan and found players that did meet his requirements.

        • onlinesideline

          he’ll definietly do that – no doubt whatsoever – the guy is a mule

        • David Creagh

          You may be right he may be stubborn but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and not expecting to get a different result. At least he is doing something to try and change the culture, a lot of his youngsters are from his successful NRC team/QLD U20s, they seemed to go OK.

        • onlinesideline

          agree

    • Brisneyland Local

      IS agree. The Rebles closed up shop at 56 mins when they rested Genia. They knew they had enough points on the board to hold out, so they protected their key players for the next round. If they had kept him on and put their foot down they could have surely added at least another 7-14 points to keep pouring salt into the wounds of the Reds.

    • David Creagh

      Best game I have seen Genia play since 2011.

    • jamie

      A second year halfback should still know what to do. Second year professional probably means he’s played rugby for 10+ years… Just dumb rugby by the Reds.

    • onlinesideline

      I disagree re Higgers. I like him as a player but he has always been an enforcer that has done the occassional dumb thing on the filed. This is not new for Higgers IMO. We have seen him sin binned a number of times over the years havent we? Its his achilles.

  • Adrian

    Hmm….too soon to write Reds off.

    The cards effected everything, though Rebels did most things right.

    At the risk of gloating, I was surprised that the “no dickheads” policy didn’t extend to Huggers, and I’m still surprised.

    I think that Thorn thought that Higgenbotham would be better in the tent than outside of it, but he does have form, on and off the field, and not just once

    • idiot savant

      I agree that its too early to get a fix on the Reds. They are inexperienced and that was amplified by the cards but theres a fair bit of talent there as well.

      I dont agree about Higgers. Sure he has transgressed before but he was also the best captain the Rebels have ever had and a Super Rugby championship player. He gets way less cards than Hooper or Beauden Barrett.

      • Adrian

        I only partly agree with myself re Higgers!
        What I really meant was, that I wouldn’t have been surprised if Thorn had not wanted Higgenbotham for the same reasons that he didn’t want Cooper, …but I was being a bit facetious actually

        • Brisneyland Local

          The only reason Higgers got off was the cop he hit was a Reds fan and agreed to drop the matter! ;-)

      • Mattocks

        I think Stirling Mortlock and Gareth Delve might disagree with you as to who has been the Rebels best captain

        • Kevino

          Higgers was the best captain in Melbourne. Thats a no brainer and not meaning disrespect to Mortlock or Delve. But Higgers was captain for the first season with 7 wins and than McMahon captained most of the 7 the following year.

          Stirzaker has the worst record, two wins from about 30 games as captain.

        • jamie

          Stirzaker as a player is quite responsible for a lot of those losses. A 9 that can’t pass or read the play.

        • McWarren

          Put him in Gold!!

  • Pearcewreck

    Thorn: We’ve dropped Quade to tighten up our defence.

    Reds concede 45 points…..

  • Perth girl

    So the crowd was just over 10,000 despite all the free tickets given out. Well done Melbourne!

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      10,021 watched the opening Derby for the Australian conference when no competing AFL game was scheduled, the result of an aggressive drive that included discounting season memberships to $88 and mailinf free tickets to registered players in Melbourne. Great job Melbourne, if we now pay fans to turn up we might get to 10,022. Rugby Union is showing AFl who is king in Melbourne…the sport capital of Australia.

      • jamie

        Speaking of:

        The US all foam at the mouth over the NFL, which is 11 minutes playtime over 4 hours. We have a better product, but we can’t deliver or market it correctly. Ever. Why can’t we find a Dennis Commetti of rugby? I cringe when I listen to the rugby.

    • Kevino

      Hey Perth Girl.

      2017 Round 2 was Western Force v Queensland Reds. Attendance was 7008.

      So you need to come up with something better than that? Part time rugby fan with no real clue.

  • Jason

    First i’d like to say some of the pressure regarding Quade (and now Hunt) is coming from outside the coaching staff (not that that means thorn wants Quade back, just that he’s at least not the only one).

    Having said that, if this season is going to be one where we have swapped Quade and Hunt for Lance and Toua then I don’t know if I want to support the Reds. Hamish Stewart must be playing, him not getting on the field yesterday is very concerning. Quade making way for Stewart, I can close my eyes and think of England, Lance is where draw the line.

  • Richard Patterson

    Thanks as always for the write-up.

    Like many out there I have nothing but complete respect and admiration for Brad Thorn. The guy has always been a consummate professional on and off the field and I wish the guy every success in this new coaching road he is venturing down. Perhaps like some though, I feared he was given this Reds coaching assignment 1-2 years before he was 100% ready for it — especially by an organisation that has churned through coaches like few others, and shown very little ability to build systems around their appointments to best ensure success.

    We are also well aware the downward spiral Queensland rugby has been in now for 5-6 years, since there deserved success in 2011. The Queensland Reds side that I saw on display last night was amongst the worst I have ever seen for skills, for rugby intelligence and for overall competitiveness. We know the departures they have suffered, the retirements and then the sad situation involving marquee players like Karmichael Hunt. However, this is a rugby organisation with a proud history, some outstanding success and with access to all the rugby talent that grows up, develops and plays in the state of Queensland. The skills on display last night resembled little more than a good club side. How has it possibly been allowed to get this bad — although incompetence over a prolonged period often means the holes built are deep.

    I congratulate the Rebels on a nice opening win. I also worry greatly for Brad Thorn. He has a dreadful playing squad and at this level they will get exposed. Thorn thankfully will have them working hard and will set good standards. I fear it will not be enough. For an organisation all too quick to fire head coaches, this may well be only a one year appointment. How sad for rugby Down Under.

    • Who?

      Thorn’s squad is dreadful..? He has Slipper (with how many Wallaby caps?). He has Ready, who he didn’t use. He has Tupou, who’s a massive talent who’s also working hard and will be very good (and a Wallaby). He’s got Rodda, Tui, Douglas – three Wallaby locks. He’s got some depth in the back row – not huge caps, but much potential, led by Higgers, who has a couple of years of captaincy with the Rebels, a Super title, and plenty of Wallaby caps.
      At 9 and 10, you can’t blame anyone other than Thorn for lack of depth. He’s dumped two Wallabies from consideration.
      12, you have a bloke who was the best player in the NRC, played 10 for the Wallabies (non-cap game), and several years experience. 13’s another Wallaby in Kerevi. Hunt’s missing (not Thorn’s fault).
      But really, it’s not a bad squad. It’s a matter of putting together a plan that suits the talent available, and then training them to execute it. It’s not a squad that will win the title this year, but it’s certainly one that should be competitive in our conference. One that shouldn’t see them lose their captain to a RC for poor discipline. One that should look at that action, and further their discipline – not go around tip tackling the opposition halfback. One that shouldn’t be giving away 45 points to a team that wasn’t gelling strongly in attack…

      • Richard Patterson

        Fair comments Who – thanks for sharing. Perhaps uninspiring and unconvincing are better ways to describe this Reds squad — and this Reds performance. Let’s hope some of those players you refer to step up and play like Wallaby calibre players because there was little evidence of it from too many of them Friday night. With Super Rugby back to a right-sized 15 team competition wins are going to be harder to achieve this year than the previous few seasons. Let’s see what this lot have got in them because they were humbled in their opening display.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Who, do you know what has happened to Ready? My inside goss said Thorn has dumped due to lack of training effort and attitudinal problems.
        Have you heard anything similar?

        • Who?

          Mate, I’ve heard nothing, but given they were the whispers about him under Stiles, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that those sort of whispers might bear a grain of truth… Disappointing if it’s true, though. And you’d have hoped that Stiles and Thorn would’ve been working hard to get the best out of him. Not sure either have figured that out yet, though.

      • Brendan Hume

        Didn’t watch the game thoroughly, but I though Tupou was and the scrum performed really well, Slipper was tackling quite well, Reds looked pretty good at times first half, particularly scoring a try with only 13 on the paddock against a Rebels team with its fair share of talent.

        Going to be a tough task with such a young squad but if the young Reds locks live up to their potential and if they can get some momentum from their carries they’ll still be a team that will cause some headaches. I’m not sold on the back three at the moment – all have some ability but Nabuli and Chris FS isn’t a really well balanced pair of wings and Toua was probably going to be sitting behind Hunt.

        As much as I love Quade as a footy player, I think Jono Lance is a good player who will be proven as such this year.

        I thought the breakdown was a big problem for Aussie teams this weekend with teams seeming to concede too many turnovers.

  • MalachyBernard

    People can debate whether or not Higgs was a yellow or red (I think it was a yellow because the right arm did appear to be wrapped around the player) but regardless there is no excuse for either infringement by Higgs or Tui. Discipline is entirely in the control of the player and team. Therefore you are giving the opposition free money when you violate it. The great teams control the aggression and win.

  • McWarren

    Why when you a man down, worse two men, do you kick the ball away. Not only kick it away but not bother to kick it out, no no, let’s kick it to DHP in space 5 metres inside our own half. I had hoped when Higgers left that Thorn may have given some Kiwi secrets on how to play 14 man rugby.

    To play 14 man rugby you need a 10, or 9, who can control the game. Keep playing but start wind the clock down, slow the game, keep hold of the ball, kick to the corners. My kingdom for a Lynagh!!

    Why when you are down by 25 odd points do you leave your reserve 10 on the bench?

    WTF did we sign Toua back? The best thing we did for seasons was give him to the Brumbies.

    Higgers you dick head.

    Thank god for Ireland and Scotland.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yeah that Scotland win was a cracker wasnt it!

  • Nutta

    Up the Rebs! Great start to the year.

    Reds scrum in-particular was poor i thought.

    Higgers call for a red was correct. I still think it’s soft, but by the current interpretations a red was correct

    Tui was only saved from red by Higgers red. All things being equal, Tui was a red and what he did was more dangerous that Higgers by a mile. But a ref won’t give x2 reds in a match like that unless a veritable gun is smoking.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Nutta as always a logical response. Youare right, Tui’s was worse, and was saved by the previous red.
      Mind you, if he had thrown a punch it would have been a second red.
      Higgers will now have a few weeks to work on his tackling technique, and I am sure Tui will probably get at least as long. This will have a significant affect on the Reds leadership, because it was obvious on Friday night when he left the field no one knew what to do!

      • Nutta

        No further on Higgers would be fair enough. The red on the day was correct and enough. But Tui will get a wee break of a few weeks I reckon.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Well Higgers has a three week break, according to the news I just read. Tui’s hearing is on Tuesday night, but suggest he will be doing the same.

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Diego Ghirardi is a rugby fanatic from Italy, living in Melbourne. Played on the wing, now mainly couch flanker or sideline halfback. Enjoys writing in broken English, which should be read in a Franco Cozzo accent to render it more original. In case you understand Italian, you can read his banters on http://australiasport.org or better not

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