In another lifetime the Reds had the measure of the Chiefs, but not these days. Will it be business as usual or can the Reds buck the Kiwi domination? The first is much more likely than the second but I’m eternally optimistic.
The first 20 minutes of the game was all Chiefs. They dominated possession and territory to strangle the Reds game. Tries to Tyler Arden and Charlie Ngatai were a direct result of that dominance. The Reds didn’t help their cause, losing a tighthead and coughing up possession in contact. The only bright spot for the Reds was the head knock to the Chiefs linchpin Damian Mckensie which saw him ruled out of the rest of the game. Obviously, that was not a bright spot for Mckensie who looked very much under the weather.
Without their flyhalf, the chiefs weren’t nearly as dominant, but they still managed to go into halftime 24-0 up thanks to a Brodie Retalick try. For their part, the Reds never looked a chance of scoring. Not one player looked capable of drawing and passing. While all of them seemed intent on bashing into the Chiefs defensive wall time after time, like waves against a rock wall with about the same effect.
And it’s rinse and repeat. The Chiefs didn’t look like world beaters by any means but they only had to beat the Reds. Liam Polwart scored a try for the Chiefs just after the break and the Reds managed to get one back through a typical run From Samu Kerevi. Finally, after 60 minutes, the Reds brought on Moses Sorovi and the Reds immediately showed the urgency at the ruck and maul base that they had been desperately missing. It’s amazing the difference a good halfback can make.
That speed of delivery gave Kerevi the extra time to get up to pace for his second try. At 31-12 things looked like petering out, but, amazingly, the Reds decided to run the ball from deep in their half after the final whistle. This played right into the Chiefs hand and after five minutes they forced a lineout maul over the line to win themselves a bonus point off the back of another Reds bad decision.
I can’t fault the Reds player commitment, but I can question the decision made by the coaching staff. They are being hamstrung by very bad selections in key positions. Ben Lucas brings nothing that the other three halfbacks in the squad can’t do better and quicker. Jono Lance can defend like a demon, but he lost the attack playbook in 2011 and never found it again. Aiden Toua is a roadblock in all the wrong ways. Brad Thorn’s honeymoon is over and serious questions must be asked about his ‘new direction’ at the moment it looks like that direction is backwards. There are better players in all these key positions on the Reds book and we need more than Thorn’s platitude to justify their exclusions.
The Game Changer
Brad Thorn’s ridiculous selection policies.
The G&GR MOTM
The only Aussie players I can give any credit to are Izack Rodda and Samu Kerevi. Kerevi’s two tries get him the nod as Man Of The Match.
Never a Wallaby watch
Ben Lucas, Aiden Toua, Jono Lance
Score & Scorers
Tries: Samu Kerevi 2
Conversions: Jono Lance
Tries: Tyler Ardron, Charlie Ngatai, Brodie Retallick, Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei’aho
Conversions: Damian McKenzie 2, Marty McKenzie 2
Penalties: Damian McKenzie
Cards & citings