Reds v. Highlanders – The Reds march on... - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Review: Reds v. Highlanders – The Reds march on…

Review: Reds v. Highlanders – The Reds march on…

This was one of the games this round that will have plenty of bearing on the shape of the finals series in 2012. The simple fact: the loser could start thinking about their end-of-season activities, the winner was still in with a chance.

The Reds were back at Lang Park for the first time in seven weeks, and they were playing in a commemorative jersey to boot. After a traditional Aboriginal welcoming to the teams, the game was ready to go.

The Highlanders were on the attack early, and after several penalties at scrum time, it was clear the Reds were struggling. Kaplan eventually let the ball play even though the scrum had gone down. The Highlanders strung a few phases together before another penalty was awarded and they took the points.

The Reds hit back very shortly after with a Mike Harris penalty. It was clear Kaplan had his whistle and he wasn’t afraid to use it.

Scott Higginbotham then scored a try for the fans, because it wasn’t one for the scoreboard. Quade Cooper chased a kick from an offside position and toed the ball back infield for Higgers to seize and carry over the line. It will look good in the highlight reels, even if it didn’t count.

The Highlanders were at their breakdown best, requiring the Reds to commit plenty to the breakdown. In the first 25 minutes the accuracy was missing, causing the home team plenty of issues in both the penalty count and their continuity in attack.

Despite this, the Reds were taking points every time they were down in the opposition half. The other promising thing was the way Quade was running the attack. One great example of that was the move that saw Chris F’Sautia do his hammy. With plenty of runners providing options Quade hit F’Sautia, who was using his pace to great advantage before his leg gave way.

This incident brought 50-capper Ben Lucas onto the field to take over as fullback, with Luke Morahan going to the wing.

A drop-goal attempt from Mike Harris went horribly pear-shaped so no points were added and the teams went to oranges with the Reds leading 6-3.

A couple of replacements were made at the resumption, with Radike Samo and Ben Daley subbing for Beau Robinson and Greg Holmes respectively.

The Reds started to find their groove, and again they found themselves deep in the Highlanders’ half with the pressure mounting. Again they were rewarded with a penalty at the ruck. Genia was obviously aware of how important the win was and opted for the shot at goal. Mike Harris put it over.

It was just after that that Mike’s flatmate Rob Simmons left the field with a knock to the knee. This saw Easts Tiger Jarred Butler make his Super Rugby debut.

Scoring a pie or just about to eat one?

Another trip into the Highlanders’ 22 followed, and another penalty attempt by Harris. This time he made a rare miss. All these trips down into enemy territory and no tries to show for it… something had to be done. Naturally it was a typically graceful front-rower on the end of the move to get the job done. Harris added the extras.

The Highlanders realised their season was slipping away and almost from the restart (a constant bugbear of mine, how poor Australian teams are at this area) collected the ball and worked their way down the field. A scrum penalty to the Highlanders was taken as another scrum, the ball was taken off the back by the number 8 and one phase later Adam Thompson was over for the visitors’ first try. The conversion attempt was missed by Delaney.

The Reds ventured down into the Highlanders’ 22 again ,and again they left with three points, Mike Harris converting a penalty for offside. Given this match was virtually finals football, they are making good habit of not leaving the opposition’s quarter without taking some points. It is in this regard that Harris is such an asset.

The Highlanders weren’t out of it yet, though. An attacking penalty six metres out gave them great ball, their forwards used the pick-and-drive to perfection and despite the Reds’ committed defence they got Chris King low and drove across the line. Noakes was unable to make the conversion.

Despite being well behind on the penalty count the Reds were able to make theirs count on the scoreboard, overcoming the two-to-one try count. They finished six points clear, 19–13… making Sully’s ‘Reds by 5!’ prediction look pretty good.

This means of course that the big match next weekend will be a great chance to continue the winning run and set up a title-defence finals campaign. As Will Genia said in the post-match interview, it is make or break, no hiding from that. The Reds will be drawing heavily on last year for inspiration.

Whom will you be cheering for tonight in the Waratahs versus Brumbies match?

Reds 19 (Try: Slipper, Con: Harris 1/1, Pen: Harris 4/5) def Highlanders 13 (Try: Thompson, King, Con:  Delaney 0/1 Noakes 0/1 Pen: Delaney 1/2)

Official MOTM: Quade Cooper

Crowd: 33,899

  • Robson

    A fantastic rebuild back to top form from Quade. His cutout passes were incredibly long and accurate and there is no doubt that when he chose to use it there were definitely points on offer. Sautia’s outside break had try written all over it until his hamstring went, but there were other similar events too. The best thing about Quade’s cut out passes (which he has often been criticized for) was that none of them were balooning, loopy ones. They were all flat, hard missiles and some of them travelled some extraordinary distances to be right on target. His kicking to the wings was also so very nearly pinpoint, but will get better and better. And once when he decided to go himself down the shortside he totally bamboozled the defence with some slick stepping slight of hand that only he can do.

    It is just great to see him clearly on his way back to top form.

  • Tangawizi

    F u Bulls! F u Chiefs!

    Go the Tahs!

    • BB

      F u Bulls! F u Chiefs! F u Tags!
      Nothing is going the reds way :(

      • Tangawizi

        True – F U Tahs!

        Go the Reds!

  • RJ

    SARU will be organising BP wins for the sharks and the bulls next weekend. Then we are toast (unless the tahs win by more than 7 tonight. C’mon Tah’s (never thought i would say that)

    • Cantab

      Ah you traded your sole by surporting the tahs and they still lost. Tough weekend.

  • willus

    I like this new version of Quade. His major problem previously was overplaying his hand and now seems to be doing better in controlling the match.

    This was evident to me when he ran back to collect a kick as last defender and my friend said “here comes some sick step” which was met with a resounding sigh upon Quade passing it for the safe option.

    Oh and he made his important tackles too.

    Good on him.

  • Handles

    What was Kaplan smoking? Two ‘deliberate knock down’ penalties? Both absolute crap. Half a dozen other incomprehensible decisions. There should be a formal review with public disclosure of the results. This behind closed doors stuff is not working, the same rubbish refs making the same rubbish calls.

  • skyeblue

    reds don’t deserve a top 6 spot if you ask me..haven’t strung together a complete performance this year as they did last year. couldn’t see them getn through the semis anyhow. the trophy goin transtasman again im affraid

    • Robson

      Well it doesn’t seem like it’s going to Sydney does it?

  • GoForGold

    Something that has been getting more and more obvious this season – the Kiwi teams just make a complete mess of the breakdown – ‘saders v chiefs game was a complete clusterfuck at the breakdown contest.

Queensland Reds

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

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