Reds kick off season with internal trial - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Reds kick off season with internal trial

Reds kick off season with internal trial

The Reds kicked off their season with an internal trial and the one and only Ben Marczyk (@Ben_Marczyk on twitter) went along and was kind enough to give us his thoughts.

Before I get too far into this, I think I need to spell out the framework that I used to look at this game. Firstly I totally understand that it was the first proper game environment for the Reds squad this year, secondly it was an intra-squad game which can be both good and bad, and finally and probably most importantly, I was looking for some spark, any spark that would give the regular punter at home something to look forward to in 2018.

So with that off my chest, let’s push on with it

A hardy (read small) crowd converged on an unseasonably cool and wet evening at Ballymore to see the first run out of the Brad Thorn led 2018 Queensland Reds squad. The weather clearly wasn’t going to do anyone favours. As the team sheet I saw later confirmed this largely looked like an “A’s vs B’s” type set up, and we were soon underway. The White team had a number of young players including the 2017 schoolboy sensation Jordan Petaia at 13.

A quiet first ten minutes came and went with neither team doing anything of note. A few probing runs here and there but mostly feeling each other out. At this early stage I became concerned as I really thought both teams would be keen to make a mark and set a tone with some stern defence, but it was all solid without being spectacular.

The White squad (the nominal B’s) were definitely holding their own and through a run of errors and silly penalties- a worrying carry over from past years, White had a scrum right on the Red line. It was at this point that the improvement in the scrum work of Taniela Tupou stood out. He led a White front row that decimated James Slippier, Sef Fa’agase and new comer Brandon Paenga-Amosa and led to repeated scrum penalties that perhaps in a competitive game would have led to a penalty try or a yellow card. A dropped ball ended up curtailing the attacking drive.

After 20 odd minutes, it was the turn of Red to get on the attack, again more through sloppy handling and giving away of penalties than any great attacking zeal. It must be said that Red also blew several attacking chances with poor handling, pushing the last pass unnecessarily, or in one alarming case, missing the target by a good metre.  Eventually though, Lukhan Tui offloaded smartly to Kerevi who had only to fall over the line. Tuttle added the conversion and it was 7-0 at halftime.

The second half started much like the first, nothing exciting and a few groan inducing errors by both sides. Eventually Moses Sorovi took advantage of some sustained possession and pressure and dived over out wide and the conversion evened up the score at 7-7. The trickle of subs started at this point and any sort of cohesion was further eroded. On 50 minutes Hamish Stewart had a smart run and evaded a few defenders to put Red up again, and it must be said the Stewart looked composed all night and his boot and calmness should be an asset when the games start for real.

With Red up 14-7 with around 2 minutes left, a determined looking White team again took advantage of sustained possession, and a good series of pick and drives saw Tai Ford get over, with Jake Strachan converting to leave the game knotted up 14 all. A very late Red raid went unrewarded and the whistle blew to end what was a mostly underwhelming game.

Players of Note:

Hamish Stewart- composed, calm and booming boot bodes well for 2018, especially with Ben Lucas and Jono Lance both in the mix and tutoring him.

Lukhan Tui- many of the bone jarring runs we came to see in 2017 were back again. The abrasiveness is a massive asset and like many, still so young.

Adam Korczyk- staked an early claim to the 7 jersey with a solid effort all around, menacing at the breakdown and solid elsewhere.

Taniela Tupou- this is mostly for his scrumming tonight. He seems like such a willing learner that the thing that was his weakness is now becoming his strength.

Overall Thoughts:

While some people may wish to make apologies for the spectacle due to the weather, there was still a lot of cause for concern in my eyes. Many of these were things that in my mind would be at the forefront of what Brad Thorn would be looking for this season.

  • Discipline- This was a theme last year with the Reds getting more cards than my kids on their birthday but it happened again tonight. Not just the penalties but where they were on the field- a team with a good kicker would have added 12-15 points on both teams.
  • Ball handling- Yes, it was wet and the first game but again I would be concerned with the ease of which some balls just popped out or careless passes were thrown.
  • Defensive intensity- The ease of which both teams were able to march down the field when they could control it was alarming, especially given it was played in tight for much of the game.

Anyone who saw this game in the context of the trials played over the ditch earlier in the day would be rightly concerned that while remaining hopeful, 2018 could be another long year for the Queensland Reds and their fanbase.


Queensland Red 14 (Samu Kerevi, Hamish Stewart tries; James Tuttle, Isaac Lucas conversions) drew with Queensland White 14 (Moses Sorovi, Tai Ford tries; Nick Jooste, Jake Strachan conversions)



  • Simon

    Yellow card to Perese for a deliberate knockdown too, right on half time. Perhaps on the harsh side but consistent with what we’ve seen in Super Rugby. I agree that there would have been one or two others if it was a regular season game.

    It was messy at times, but trial games are really not a good metric to judge regular season form on. I’ll reserve judgement for now – hope springs eternal.

    • Ben Marczyk

      Totally agree. I recall a trial about three seasons ago where we thumped the Crusaders then were poor all season as an example of that. I did try to temper my mood both positive and negative when looking at the match. It will be interesting to measure the improvement in the second trial in a few weeks time.

      Saw the penalty for the knockdown but didnt notice the card- that said it wouldnt have surprised me.

      • Simon

        Yeah, I was at that trial too. And the Brumbies put 50 on the Hurricanes in a trial two years ago – Hurricanes then had a near-flawless season and won the title. And then last year the Waratahs put 50 on the Brumbies in Mudgee, Brumbies won the conference and the Tahs finished third-last in the comp, ahead of only the Sunwolves and Rebels.

        • Brumby Runner

          Just one little correction Simon. The Brumbies win over the Hurricanes was in the first round of the SR comp, not a trial. That, from memory, is about the last win by an Aus side, certainly the Brumbies, over a NZ SR side.

          Otherwise, I agree with your’s and Ben’s sentiment about trial matches.

      • Alister Smith

        I watched that trial too. The Reds were taking 3 or 4 phases just to make it back to the advantage line set by the previous lineout/scrum. This is a little harder to tell because we can’t make judgements about the quality of the opposition as they are less well known. Might be a bit too early to give up on them just yet though – I think the Crusaders lost heavily in their trial yesterday. It will be good to see a final top 23 selected

  • Ruggaman

    I reckon the Reds will find things difficult this year, the Rebels benefited from the Force axing in terms of recruitment so my prediction is bottom of the Aus log for Reds

  • Nutta

    Reg I admire your enthusiasm and determination to expect the best. They are professionals goddammit and so they should be on-point. However trials just suck. Everyone is trying a little bit too hard and so they all over-play their hand making for generally shite rugby. That’s my experience anyway. For me, I’ve seen enough Summer Premiers over the year to not expect too much in terms of quality play before the first real whistle. All I’m looking to see is fitness and attitude. Therefore your comment around D (as it’s mostly attitude) is the real concern and I do note that flies in the face of some of the quality our NZ mates are already producing.

    And of course I’m no Matt Burke so i have no right to comment (just had to get that one away early).

    • Just pointing out that Ben wrote the article, Reg only posted it for him.

      • Nutta

        Rude of me. Fixed.

        • RugbyReg

          properly credited now

    • Ben Marczyk

      I really did try to look at the game through the prism of it being the first hit out and intra squad. My concern is really that some of the things i would have thought a Thorn led team would bring just wasnt there. Discipline, attitude and care for the ball spring to mind. In saying that it can take a long time to turn an oil tanker around.

    • Brisneyland Local

      More commonsense from the big man. Well said Nutta. According to MAtty Burke us fans cant say anything, as we dont know shit!

  • Thanks Ben. I was too lazy to make the trip up from the Goldie in the rain and I appreciate your perspective on the game. It’s certainly a little different than the one from the ARU propaganda machine and more believable.
    Still it’s a trial and we shouldn’t expect perfection I suppose.
    Good to hear about Stewart, I expect to see him Start the season at flyhalf. I think Thorn has that much faith in him. And he certainly fits the Dan Carter mould of player.
    Any more news on the tight five play would be appreciated. Their general play last year was average and I’m hoping for a significant improvement .

    • Ben Marczyk

      Probably the main reason why it didnt get a mention was that it really didnt stand out too much, despite the conditions where you would perhaps have thought it may have.

    • Simon

      Yeah as Ben says both tight fives were rather quiet. Tupou was his usual bullocking self but seems to have slimmed down a bit and didn’t hit people quite as hard as we’re used to. I do like that a few times they left him out of the lineout and put him in the backline as a receiver, like they did in Country – hope to see that a bit in the regular season. With BT in charge I suspect we will.

      I do wonder if the fact it was an intra-squad trial meant the big boppers were bit softer on each other than they would have been otherwise.

  • Cuffey

    good stuff Reg, plenty of nervous tahs out there now!

  • Gipetto

    NRC is over Thorny. No one cares who won the pre-season comps. Better call Quade.

Queensland Reds

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

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