The Reds escaped the embarrassment of two away losses to the Sunwolves when they won 34-31 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium with their first win of the 2019 season. 63% of the possession, 58% of the time spent in the opposition half and 3 points the difference at the end of the 80 minutes. Fans will take the win, but it certainly isn’t the shiny new guard we had been promised.
Brad Thorn was clearly taking the points, seeing his relieved smile in the coaches box at the end of the match, but the Sunwolves will be rueing the loss after such a dominant first half.
First Half Moment
The standout first half moment, for mine, was a series of moments – the Sunwolves defence in the first half was really quite impressive – they kept us in our own half for most of the time. The Reds were rushed and flat in attack, and in fact, mostly went backwards against the Sunwolves defence.
Second Half Moment
The Reds turnaround, led by the bench, to arrest the 21-5 deficit from half time is the second half moment. Brendan Paenga-Amosa’s two tries contributed massively to this, as did his steady hand in the lineout. 3 tries in 7 minutes were the difference in the end as the Sunwolves faded.
5 Talking points
1. Tate McDermott should start for the Reds
Moses Sorovi did not set the world on fire and his service was slow and mostly one-out, which wasn’t a challenge for the very solid defence of the Sunwolves. The Reds have a lot of not-old players (see, we too can avoid using the ‘young’ word, Thorn), so some of our issues came against a wiser, imported Sunwolves team. But once McDermott was on, we started to show some life and push through the advantage line. It’s not the first time this season McDermott has shone from the bench and he should start over Sorovi.
2. Sunwolves should be in the competition
So we know the Sunwolves are fighting for their lives/place in the competition (particularly after their heartfelt tweet from Wednesday) and while they lost, and have a mass of imported players, I think rugby should be expanding, not contracting and with the right coach and a few more wins, they will become a solid story. They definitely belong in the competition.
Our apologies that you may have been concerned if Sunwolves can survive in the future. Our dreams, hopes and challenges have been always with you. We once again wish all of you to join us our tough journey. On behalf of you, we send your will to SANZAAR.https://t.co/aBYAgBDEH4
— サンウルブズ/SUNWOLVES (@sunwolves) March 13, 2019
3. Charterboat? What charterboat?
Mother of bleeps. If you missed the best example of the disarray of the Reds today, let me recap.
- Lucas and CFS standing back for the restart.
- 0 communication.
- Knock on 15 metres out.
- Sunwolves score.
This is rookie stuff, and seeing stuff like this happens concerns me that we have the requisite number of players out there, but no team.
4. You get the team you buy and build
So this may be a little extreme for Round 5 and 4 matches in for the Reds, but I still can’t see the rhyme or reason behind 12-year-olds taking the field when there have always been other options out there. In 2018, the decision was made to exclude players for reasons never explained, create a culture that meant players made incredibly poor decisions in an environment that should have supported them, start the juniors instead of the seniors, play people out of position, change the starting line up frequently and keep everyone on their toes.
I believe fervently in the data that smarter people than me provide (hello, Ben Darwin) and this shit is never going to cut it to build coherence and consistency.
This isn’t an accident we have a team of babies – this was the design and I don’t understand why. If you can’t bring experienced men along the journey with you, the issue is you, not them. This is the team deliberately bought and built – and it’s 7 from 20.
Word on the street was that the appointment in 2017 was contingent on getting rid of QC. (Because who cares if we make a loss right guys, right? We have principles. And you are not our pal.)
And additional word is the exodus coming at the end of 2019, not entirely attributable to the RWC. 10 year dynasty cannot be built sustainably on a poor culture.
5. What to do with Stewart?
Stewart’s kicking game is solid. Whatever Thorn wants from a 10 though, it appears that Stewart can’t deliver this, although I thought he did deliver in 2018.
So what to do with Stewart?
The Game Changer
Brendan Paenga-Amosa’s second try, because who doesn’t love a hooker getting a pie? Or two?
The G&GR MOTM
Damon Murphy had a great match as referee – communicating but allowing a flowing match. Nah, seriously, it was probably McDermott for his service, leadership and his try in the second half to seal the deal for the first win of the season.
Other than expecting further Wallaby call-ups for BPA, Harry Hoopert looks to be heading in the direction of the Wallabies with a very mature performance. If this wasn’t a RWC year, I would expect him to be around the setup.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Booth, Warren-Vosayaco, Pryor, Uchida
Conversions: Parker 4
Penalties: Parker 1
Tries: Wright, Paenga-Amosa 2, Hoopert, McDermott
Conversions: Stewart 3
Penalties: Stewart 1
Cards & citings